AOS Book Reviews


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

The Threat in the West IndiesBook three of 'The Merriman Chronicles', The Threat in the West Indies, continues the now familiar mix of naval action and espionage. Merriman is now in command of the new three masted sloop Aphrodite with orders to sail to the West Indies where he is to be under the orders of the spy Mr Grahame. The book follows the ship as it moves from island to island engaging privateers and seeking out French spies sowing dissent on the British Islands. Eventually they join the British combined force as they  invade the French controlled islands.

This book is a good fit with the previous two and continues the stories of the well rounded characters but in places the narrative seemed a bit sparse. There were also some errors which could be easily rectified with some copy editing. However, the errors were minor and if you are enjoying the series can be easily ignored.

The Elephant VoyageI like to learn new things from history and Joan Druett's The Elephant Voyage revealed the fascinating story of one sealing ship and the fates of it's crew in a narrative that was educational from start to finish. There are two sections to the book, firstly an account of the voyage where some of the crew find themselves abandoned on a desolate, wind-swept island in the Southern Ocean, while hunting for elephant seals in the 1880's, and secondly the public outcry and political ramifications in New Zealand of their rescue.

Captain Sanford Miner outfitted the schooner Sarah W. Hunt and recruited an inexperienced crew. After getting to Macquarie Island, a tiny island between Tasmania and Antarctica, they find the beaches devoid of seals and go on to Campbell Island, another rocky outcrop in the Southern Ocean, where the captain sends the mates and crew off in two whale boats to search for seals. Blown out to sea in a storm one boat barely manages to get back to shore after several days only to find the ship gone.

The captain, deciding the crew was lost, had sailed to New Zealand assisted only by the cook. For the reader the Captain is now the villain of the piece but you have to admire the feat of seamanship in getting safely to port. His arrival leads to calls for a rescue mission to search for survivors which starts the political wrangling. The crew are rescued but the consequences are surprising as the courts, politicians, the press and the US consul are all drawn into the story.

This book was interesting, not just for the story outlined above, but for it's insights into both life in New Zealand at this time and also the establishment by them of huts and stores on the various remote islands for the use of castaways and what can be regarded as an early move towards modern search and rescue.

The Sea LeopardThis book starts with Isam Rais on his first voyage in his new xebec, the Sea Leopard, and he soon finds himself in action against a Sardinian frigate. Badly damaged in the action he returns to port with little to show for his effort other than the enmity of a fellow muslim captain.

To repair his fortune he accepts an anti-pirate mission against his fellow muslims from the Dey but unpopular in the port must ship females to help crew the ship, a decision that will change his destiny. Succesful in his mission but badly wounded he returns to port but Spain declares war and he is put in command of the defensive force. A rich prize comes his way but then surprised and outnumbered he must fight for his life.

There is plenty of naval action and as always in this series it is interesting to see it from the corsairs perspective. It also fills in the back story of Isam Rais family and home.

The storyline is well written, fast paced and hard to put down. It was an enjoyable read which is highly recommended

A Pirate's Tale: The Sea FoxAccused of a papist plot in Reastoration England Jon Nostrum, son of a knight, wakes to find himself as a seaman aboard a ship owned by Edmund Stanton a ruthless Jamaican businessman who has coerced Kath Ellis.

To escape Stanton the crew mutiny and Jon finds he now has a new career as a pirate captain with a powerful enemy bent on revenge. But how will the intervention of Sir Henry Morgan, former buccaneer and now Governor of Jamaia, affect things. 

At it's heart this is a fairly standard will the girl run off with the pirate plot but it is very well written with a storyline that is well paced with rounded characters that are far more believable than some of the Pirates of the Carribbean caricatures. I enjoyed reading it and would purchase a sequel if one were written.


The Glorious FirstThe Glorious First is the second book in M. Howard Morgan's series about Royal Marine officer Jack Vizzard.

As war with France breaks out the government needs information and Vizzard finds himself in the murky world of espionage. Captured in enemy territory he must find a way to escape. Back iin England, for his valuable work, he is assigned to a ship in Lord Howe's fleet which plays a pivotal role in the first major battle of the war known as the Glorious First of June.

The book really has two distinct parts, the first of which is somewhat slower, but it is well written and the storyline flows well. The book picks up as the battle approaches and the action sequences are graphically written.

It is good to see a Royal Marine character taking centre stage and I look forward to further instalments of Vizzard's adventures. Recommended.

TridentThis new title in Michael Aye's Fighting Anthony's series covers new ground as the author, for part of the story, moves the setting away from the Caribbean. With knowledge of an attempt by American privateers and the French to intercept the vital East India trade a squadron is despatched to the waters off Madagascar, however after his Admiral is wounded, as Flag Captain, Gabe finds himself in command and facing a superior force.

Throughout this series the author has built up quite a large cast of characters but as usual we are reintroduced to them without slowing down the pace of the story. There are no detailed descriptions of ship handling but several action sequences.

The 'Fighting Anthony's is set during the American struggle for independence but does not seek to recount specific historical events. This is another good yarn with a fresh feel and 'Trident' as well as the series as a whole is recommended.

© 2008-2016 David Hayes (Astrodene)