AOS Book Reviews


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

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.

The French PrizeOriginally published on the The Old Salt Blog

For fans of his “Revolution at Sea Saga,” Jame’s Nelson’s The French Prize is an introduction to the next generation. Isaac Biddlecombe, the Revolutionary War naval hero of the previous saga, has a son, Jack, coming of age in the young American republic. The novel is set during the so-called Quasi-War, an undeclared war fought almost entirely at sea between the United States of America and the French Republic from 1798 to 1800. Jack Biddlecombe is a skilled sailor and ship’s officer, while also a bit of a hot-head and a brawler. He has been given his first command, the merchant ship Abigail, bound for Barbados. Concerned about the danger of French privateers in the West Indies, the ship owner has six pound cannon installed on the deck of the ship. Oddly, the ship owner also happens to be one of his father’s political rivals. As Jack sails for the West Indies, toward the guns of a French warship, he is wholly unaware of the layers of political intrigue that surround the voyage.

In addition to duels, storms, and battles at sea, Nelson gives Jack Biddlecome an engaging passenger for the trip in the form of William Wentworth, of the “Boston Wentworths”, the son of wealth and position, who seems in equal parts amused, annoyed and intrigued by the young captain. When they aren’t literally trying to kill each other, they become allies of sorts. I would not be surprised to see William Wentworth in future books of the series. The French Prize is a fun and engaging read.

© 2008-2016 David Hayes (Astrodene)