AOS Book Reviews


This section contains reviews of AOS books by David Hayes and members of the forum (Modern Era Reviews)

In Hostile WatersIn Hostile Waters principally follows the voyage of the USS Argus during the War of 1812 when it penetrated the Irish sea to bring the war to English waters. It also follows Argus's eventual nemesis HMS Pelican. The narrative closely follows true events experienced by both vessels, so it is not neccessary to sumarise the plot, and the author achieves this by inserting his characters from previous series, Oliver Baldwin and Edward Ballantyne, into the roles played by the First Officer of Argus (William Watson) and the Captain of Pelican (Sir John Maples).

The focus switches between the two brigs to give the reader a clear view of their voyages, their experiences and the final battle in which Argus is captured. The single ship actions of the War of 1812 were well known on both sides of the Atlantic at the time and continue to interest modern readers. This work is an excellent addition to fiction covering this subject.

This was a well written detailed account of true events with a good pace which I recommend.

Gallagher's PrizeGallagher's Prize is the story of an Irish Catholic family and in particular the two sons Jack and Eamonn. The book starts when the patriarch of the family dies and under English Law the farming land is divided and becomes uneconomic. The first third of the book follows the eldest son Thorne who gives up farming to become a successful ship's chandler supplying the English fleet. This leads to a host of conflicting priorities as his family make friends amongst the English, but are they really accepted? Thorne's sons have loyalties on opposite sides, one joining the Royal Navy and the other joining the struggle for independence and eventually the French fleet.

For the naval enthusiast the book really comes to life at this point as the plot twists and turns around the strands that join and divide the brothers until Jack breaks his bonds with the English and serves with the American Navy in the War of 1812.

The book is a very well written book with a lot of well fleshed out characters from various nationalities. It had a good pace that held my attention well and despite the numerous books that have been written about the navies of this period had a fresh feel.

There were a few minor naval anachronisms but they did not detract from what was a good read. Highly Recommended.

The Scent of CorruptionWar has broken out again and Banks finds himself in command of a 74, Prometheus. Some of his officers are new creating tensions in the wardroom and many of the crew are pressed (wrongly?) and inexperienced. Throw in a stowaway and a former officer and Bond has come up with his usual eclectic mix of interesting characters from all decks.

The crew soon find themselves having to deal with a shipwrecked Indiaman and a privateer on their way to Gibraltar before Banks finds himself as senior officer of three ships having to deal with the arrival of a French squadron.

A very strong narrative of life aboard a 74 with plenty of naval action. The plot weaves the lives of the numerous characters together well in a fast paced, hard to put down, read.

The book and the series as a whole are highly recommended.

Water GhostsAlthough not from the classic age of sail Water Ghosts is set aboard a traditional Chinese Junk in the Pacific ocean which is being used as a sail training ship for troubled teenagers. The narrative starts off as a fairly conventional story about that  subject but slowly morphs into a fantasy adventure featuring the ghosts of the title. When the adults are lost the tenneagers must learn to work together is they are to survive.

It was an imaginative story with strong characterisations and a well written plot.

An enjoyable read which is recommended.

Nor GoldNor Gold: The Pirate Captain continues the stories of Nathan, Kate and their friend Thomas. There are so many twists in the plot it is impossible to summarise, however it's a story of romance, friendship and loyalty in a brutal world. Nathan is torn between his love of Kate, her desires and the need to protect her from evil enemies and at the same time his loyalty to his ship and crew and his need for revenge on a former nemesis.

There are plenty of characters who have a developed background and as with most pirates there is the subplot of who can be trusted and who is working for thier own profit.

Like the first book it is a very well written plot with twists that make it hard to put down as you always want to know what will happen next. Romance, suspense, action, scheming, Nor Gold has it all and you are left eagerly awaiting the sequel

This book and the series are highly recommended.

By the KnifeThe lives of two young men who are unknown to each other are linked from their early years. One, David Fletcher, is sent into the Navy on his father's death and is destined to command a ship of the Royal Navy. The other, John Carter, is put into male prostitution by his mother at the age of nine and is destined to become a particularly sadistic pirate captain, a sort of cross between Long John Silver & Jack the Ripper. The plot follows how their paths continue to cross in their respective careers in the Caribbean and then the West Coast of Africa.

By the Knife was really based round the regular use of a knife by Carter, hence the title, a rather unusal hook for a nautical plot which made it a very interesting read. The narrative was well written with rounded characters and was a compelling read. Recommended.

© 2008-2015 David Hayes (Astrodene)