AOS Book Reviews

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

Naval Fiction Reviews : Non-Fiction Reviews : Pirate Fiction Reviews : Nautical Fiction Reviews : Modern Era Reviews

The Seventy-FourM. C. Muir's The Seventy-Four is the latest novel in her 'Under Admiralty Orders - The Oliver Quintrell Series' and starts with Quintrell arriving in Rio de Janeiro where he receives welcome new orders from a seventy-four which he is now required to escort to England.

With the power of the seventy-four it should be an easy voyage but they are soon engaged with two French frigates. When one is sunk and the other captured the British Captains have to spread their crews through the three ships whilst guarding a substantial number of prisoners. Into this mix is thrown some dissaffected Irishmen.

All the threads were woven into a well wiritten plot which was an enjoyable read. In the Quintrell series the plots differ from the norm as the things tend to go wrong, even though it comes right in the end, which also makes them a refreshing amd believable read.

Both the book and the series as a whole are highly recommended reading.

The Blackstrap StationFollowing the wreck of HMS Prometheus, some of the crew have managed to evade capture and a British Frigate is nearby. When their attempt to steal a vessel coincides with a cutting out attempt, action and new responsibilities follow for Tom King. Now based in Malta with a shore job he worries that  his seagoing career will be over.

Another well written narrative from Bond with sea action and some nefarious shoreside activities which as usual follows a wide cast of characters from all ranks as well as some civilians, all of whom you feel you know. The plot had plenty of unexpected twists which made it hard to put down.

Bond's historical accuracy, knowledge of sailing ships and characterisations imerse you in the period and he continues to be one of the best contemporary naval fiction authors. Highly recommended.

The Sugar RevolutionThe Sugar Revolution is the second book in The Evan Ross Series which follows an officer who lost an arm and has little prospect of further sea appointments. Instead, ably assisted by James Wilton, he runs the Antigua dockyard, however, this is a cover for his counter espionage activities.

A party of French nobles are seeking to end slavery on the sugar plantations in the Caribbean islands, and if they can't do it with words will aid slave rebellions. The navies of all the powers are seeking to stop these activities and are mistrustful of the other nations. Ross must steer a path that is diplomatic but which finds and deals with the source of the slave unrest.

Whilst not a navel novel in the purest sense, with a lot of time spent ashore, it nevertheless fits the genre and has a well written plot with a good pace. Despite this lack of sea time it was an enjoyable read and is one I recommend.

The Fireships of GerontasThe Fireships of Gerontas is the second book in The Continuing Voyages of HMS Surprise series which is a homage to O'Brian's work. As such it may appeal to some or alienate others, however, I prefer to read them just as naval fiction set against a background of events not widely covered by other authors, the Greek struggle for independence from Turkish rule.

The book, which follows on immediately from The Massacre of Innocents, consists ot two parts The first section covers the build up to and the next major naval battle against the Turkish and Egyptian fleets in which, as the title implies, the Greeks used fireships. This is followed by the voyage home of Surprise during which the crew have to endure one the worst storms ever to have reached English shores, the hurricane of November 1824.

The narratives of the battle and storm sequences were well written, as was the interplay between the various characters. Coupled with the refreshing setting this made it a good read. Whilst I review it as a stand alone work is should appeal to O'Brian fans. Recommended.

Death's Bright AngelThe latest offering in the 'Journals of Matthew Quinton' by historian J. D. Davies, Death's Bright Angel, starts with Matthew taking part in a little known raid on the Dutch at Vlie which became known as "Holmes's Bonfire".

The theme of fire continues as the majority of the book deals with Quinton and some of his crew helping to fight the conflagration of the Great Fire of London and the results of the public paranoia that it created. As an historian Davies has done some excellent research of the historical records surrounding one of the most famous events in English history and whilst the narrative is of course fiction, it is based on fact and there is a detailed 'Historical Investigation' at the end.

Whilst for the naval fiction purist the book may spend too much time ashore, one of the most famous characters associated with the Navy at the time was Samuel Pepys and he is probably best remembered for his diary entries on the Fire. The effects of the fire, in an age when the fleet did not keep the sea during the winter and had to be funded when the new fighting season started, particularly it's impact on the national economy, were undoubtedly a factor leading to the infamous Dutch victory at Chatham the following year which I assume will feature in the next book of the series. It is am important bridge between the large scale battles and victories that preceded it and the ignominious defeat that followed it and the detailed land based narrative is therefore both justified and important to the series as a whole.

Personally I enjoyed the whole of the book, learning of a naval raid I was not previously aware of and much more detail about the Great Fire, and found it to be a hard to put down. Highly Recommended.

Trumpeter Takes CommandThe hero of this book by R. S. Young is Tomatio Trumpeter and if you think of the name of the name of C. S. Forester's hero you start to establish the tone of this parody of the genre.

As all good parodies do the author takes great liberties with every aspect of a typical age of sail naval narrative including the names and ranks of the crew, ship handling and the history and attitudes of the time.

It won't be to everyones taste, but it was an enjoyable read to see fun poked at what you might consider the sterotypical plot line of such novels.

© 2008-2022 David Hayes (Astrodene)