This section contains reviews of books by David Hayes and members of the forum

Julian Mackrell Review: Captain Blackwell's Prize by V. E. Ulett

Captain Blackwell's PrizeCaptain Blackwell's Prize is a Romance set in the world of 'Nelson's Navy' early in the 19th century. As such, there is actually more grappling under sheets than on deck (two ship actions): though I could perhaps wish for a little more 'naval' and a little less 'romance', it all works pretty well to form a satisfying page-turner. Most of the action takes place shipboard, so lovers of naval fiction should feel right at home.

Ulett's characters are as convincing as her naval action is credible. Blackwell is somewhat Aubrey-ish, an uncomplicated bear of a man who is equally at home pummelling his enemy as delicately caressing his beloved Mercedes, a capable girl, strong-willed yet vulnerable. Unlike O'Brian, we are treated to greater detail of their carnal relations than naval issues while ship-handling technicalities are kept to a minimum.

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Review: Blood Diamond by Mark Keating

Blood DiamondBlood Diamond is a novel about a pirate but, as the cover description makes clear, if you are conjuring up pictures of a Caribbean swashbuckler think again. A large portion of this book is based in London and Paris, not the usual haunt of pirates. However there is some nautical action, principally in the English Channel.

For those dedicated nautical fiction fans, you should not be put of by the large land based element. The principal character, Patrick Devlin, is a very believable character, far from the stereotypical pirate created by Hollywood, and the well written plot blends the land and sea elements well. It is based around the speculation which became known as the South Sea Bubble.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more about the characters.

Recommended

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Roger Marsh Review: British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714 - 1792

British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714 - 1792We previously reviewed Rif Winfield's volume covering the period 1603 to 1714, published in the excellent series from Seaforth Publishing which details every single known British ship in service with the Royal Navy from 1603 to 1817, built, purchased or taken. As we said of the first volume, nothing quite like them exists.

The volume we are looking at this time is, chronologically, the second in the series as well as the second of them written by the author, covering the period from the accession in 1714 of King George I, shortly before the setting up of the first formal Establishment of 1719, through to 1792 under George III, the year before the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War. This time scale covers all the major naval wars of the eighteenth century except for the last one, taking us through an era when Britain consolidated her dominant position at sea and also became a major imperial power, in spite of the loss of her American colonies founded in the previous century.

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Roger Marsh Review: British Warships in the Age of Sail 1603 - 1714

British Warships in the Age of Sail 1603 - 1714Another volume in the excellent series of maritime books steadily being built up by Seaforth Publishing under the longestablished editorial team of Robert Gardiner and Julian Mannering, this impressive recent publication is one of three consecutive works by the wellknown Rif Winfield (perhaps known to readers as the author of such classic studies as The 50-gun Ship [1993], based on HMS Leopard — a lovely ship, even if one somewhat unpalatable both to US readers and to Patrick O'Brian's Captain Jack Aubrey!)

The study reviewed here takes us from the end of the reign of Elizabeth I and the accession of James I in 1603, to the death of Queen Anne and the start of the Georgian era in 1714. The second volume in the series will take us from 1714 through to 1792, just before the outbreak of war, and the third right through the Great French Wars from 1793 until 1817, just after the end of the Napoléonic Wars with France and the War of 1812 against the USA, both of which conflicts drew to a close in 1815. Both of these consecutive volumes by Rif Winfield are to be reviewed here later.

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Review: The Power and the Glory by William C. Hammond

The Power and the GloryIn the third instalment of the Cutler Family Chronicles the action moves to the Quasi War with France and find Lt. Richard Cutler serving on the first frigates of the young nations new navy USS Constellation and USS Constitution during the major actions of the campaign.

At the same time the ever expanding Cutler family is again used to explore the political and family relationships between America and England. Not many years before the two countries had fought one another as America struggled for independence with France aiding them. Now old friendships are reforming and after France starts to attack American trading vessels England and America find a common interest bringing them together over French colonial rule in Haiti.

As always the naval, family and political threads are woven together in an excellent well written and believable narrative by the author as he explores the early history of the young nation.

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Roger Marsh Review: First Rate

First Rate: The Greatest Warships of the Age of SailIt is a rare occurrence indeed to have the great pleasure of receiving quite such a magnificent large-format volume as this, Rif Winfield's First Rate, arriving on one's desk for review

The First Rate ships of the line were indeed, as the book's subtitle indicates, the greatest warships of the Age of Sail. They were the most powerful and the most impressive ships of war (or indeed ships of or for any other purpose) afloat for a period of some two-and-a-half centuries, as well as by far the most expensive vessels both to build and to maintain. Made and conceived to impress as well as to fight, the very size of a First Rate, together with the lavishness and detail of its decoration, was intended to strike awe into all who set eyes on it, whether at home or abroad, and to leave no doubt in the mind of any beholder concerning the might and prestige of the nation and monarch whose flag that ship bore. And, to quote the New York Times book reviewer Richard Snow writing nearly two decades ago now, whose words I can hardly better: "These sailing ships – today reduced to quaint and soothing images on wall calendars – were in their time the most complicated machines on earth, and the deadliest." Indeed, they were.

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