I was pleased when The Blast That Tears the Skies arrived as it meant I would soon know a lot more about the history of Restoration England through the continuing 'Journals of Matthew Quinton'.
When you are used to a diet of fiction about the navies of the Napoleonic wars getting a view of a different period when their foundations were being laid is always refreshing. The navies of the 1660's were very different with courtiers rather than professional sailors making command decisions and as the second Anglo-Dutch war starts the heir to the throne himself is at sea in command and old suspicions between cavaliers and parliamentarians are still rife. Davies weaves all this skillfully into a book which climaxes with the Battle of Lowestoft where over 200 English and Dutch ships engaged in what was the largest naval battle ever fought at the time. This is the first fleet action depicted by the author and it was very well done.
The naval action is woven into a second plot thread which covers both political and court intrigues at a time when the King rather than parliament exercised power and uncovers more of the history of the Quinton family. Protestant England is now going to War with the Protestant Dutch, who are riven with internal tensions between the constituent provinces, and all the while Catholic France is plotting for its own interests. This is all complicated by friendships and marriages from the period when the court was in exile and all takes place while the population of London is being decimated by the Great Plague.
As I now expect from this author the gripping storylines were skilfully based round the historical records of true events (explained in a historical note at the end of the book) and both this book and the series as a whole are highly recommended reading.
Description of: The Blast That Tears the Skies
Author: J. D. Davies