The only part of the movie present in the original novel is one of Sharpe's riflemen being caught stealing a chicken by a group of provosts. While the rifleman (named Skillicorn) was hanged in the movie, in the original novel he gets beaten by Sharpe. Furthermore, the Provost Lieutenant Ayres gets his comeuppance after Sharpe embarrasses him in front of the senior provost officers.
Screenwriter Nigel Kneale said of his adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's novel: "I didn't use much of [the book]. I used the first ten pages, I think. Then I had an idea which would be more fun to do. It was all about magic by the time I was through with it."