In The Mammoth Book of Hearts of Oak: Classic and New Stories from the Age of Fighting Sail, Mike Ashley brings together 22 stories involving the Royal Navy from 1760 to 1821. The authors include some of the bright lights of contemporary Historic Naval fiction like David Donachie and Richard Woodman as well as the patriarchs of the genre, Marryat and Forester. More than half of the stories were written for this anthology by established writers of mystery, science fiction, horror and historical novels.

Some are new appearances of stories by old masters like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Hope Hodgson. Despite the various origins, every story is a winner. As I read, I waited for the inevitable clunkers that fill out an anthology of this size - or at least the stories that were simply not to my taste. I am pleased to say that my expectations were not met. I enjoyed every story. In his thoughtful introduction, David Donachie muses on the enduring lure of Historic Naval Fiction, as well as on his own writing. He provides as good a response as any I've encountered to the folks who ask us, "Why do you read that stuff?" This anthology proves my long-held contention that short stories are an excellent fit with Historic Naval Fiction. I'd like to see more.

TMBoHoO is Ashley's follow up to The Mammoth Book of Men O'War Stories from the Glory Days of Sail. Some months ago I dipped into this anthology, but it failed to capture my interest, perhaps because so many of the "stories" are re-printed excerpts from novels. Having enjoyed Hearts of Oak, I'll go back and give it another try.

Description of: The Mammoth Book of Hearts of Oak

Author: Mike Ashley (Editor)

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