Category Archives: Book Reviews

Invasion Year

Invasion Year, the latest Alan Lewrie novel by Dewey Lambdin, begins with Captain Lewrie and HMS Reliant attached to the British fleet operating against the French fleet in Haiti. They arrive on the scene as the French capitulate on land. Lewrie plays a key role in negotiations with the rebels based on the knowledge he attained in Sea of Grey.

True to form, Lewrie causes some discomfiture on the part of his commodore, even though he is the senior captain, but in the end they are on friendly terms.

While replenishing supplies in Kingston, Jamaica, Lewrie receives unexpected news from England in the form of a letter informing him he has been knighted for his services to the Crown with the ceremony held in abeyance until his return. The squadron receives orders to return to England but they have to act as convoy escorts en route. The largish, 100+ ship, convoy loses some vessels to French privateers but not so many as to affect the career of the commodore.

Upon arrival in England, Lewrie is eventually seen at Court and knighted by a somewhat befuddled King George III. In the process he makes the acquaintance of Lady Lydia Stangbourne. She is a well connected young woman who has had her reputation besmirched in the course of a rather ugly and public divorce. In short, her reputation will not suffer for her association with Lewrie.

HMS Reliant is caught up in a secret mission being carried out by Admiralty revolving around using floating bombs, torpedoes, against the French invasion fleet in port. In the course of this experience Lewrie renews his acquaintance with the former commander of Lewrie’s HMS Thermopylae, Captain Joseph Speaks, and with Foreign Office operative James Peel.

Reliant tests the devices and eventually takes part on Admiral Lord Keith’s inconclusive raid on Boulogne.

When Lewrie returns from the raid he finds Peel has a distasteful new mission for him.

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Filed under Age of Sail, Alan Lewrie Novels, Book Reviews, Naval Fiction

Thoughts on King, Ship, and Sword

King, Ship, and Sword is a decidedly mixed bag.

On the one hand, it doesn’t move the development of Alan Lewrie forward much, if at all. The major focus of the novel seems to be tying up lose ends, like Lewrie’s rocky marriage and the ever diminishing villain Guillaume Choundas, and setting the stage for the second half of Lewrie’s life which, if he avoids court-martial, should see him hoist his flag by the time Waterloo rolls around.

It is obvious that Charitė de Guilleri and Phoebe Aretino are reentering the picture. Lewrie seems to be building an expertise in New Orleans and environs that one suspects will result in him being present for the Battle of New Orleans. As the War of 1812 looms, he will undoubtedly encounter his son who, at last look, was an officer in the US Navy.

Now Lewrie (quick close your eyes if you don’t want to read a spoiler) has two sons in the Navy which will certainly cause him some anxious moments.

His roguish father has started putting his affairs in order which hints at his upcoming demise. Unfortunately, looks like Sir Hugo is destined to die peacefully in his own bed rather than violently in someone else’s.

His half-brother, Gerald, has been absent since Lewrie had him press-ganged into the navy. His half-sister, Belinda, hasn’t made an appearance since the first novel, The King’s Coat. Even though she is pushing 40 she is still a highly desired hooker. It’s hard to believe she won’t reappear at some point.

On the whole, this is not the best of the series. The naval action seems to be an afterthought. A respected, upright Lewrie isn’t quite as much fun as the devious, edgy Lewrie we’ve known in the past. And Lambdin makes some technical errors, like complaining about the “purser’s pound”, i.e. rations being issued at 14 rather than 16 ounces to the pound, a practice which ceased with the Spithead Mutiny. He also describes the cheese in terms that could only be Suffolk cheese which was dropped by the Victualling Board in 1758.

But we’re waiting for the next in the series, The Invasion Year.

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Filed under Age of Sail, Alan Lewrie Novels, Book Reviews

Captains Contentious

Old Salt Blog has posted an excellent review of Louis Arthur Norton’s book Captains Contentious – The Dysfunctional Sons of the Brine.

Sometimes it is hard to fathom how the United States either gained or maintained her independence given the surplus of knaves and poltroons who gravitated to our army and navy in times of national crisis. George Washington spent the first half of the American Revolution fighting off various intrigues designed to have him removed from office. Our small and largely ineffectual navy was beset by narcissists and self-promoters. We produced enough savants, idiot and otherwise, to win. Barely.

A bit of the review

Norton looks at five ship’s captains who fought for the infant American Navy in the Revolutionary War. When not fighting the British, these captains also fought with each other, with their crews, their peers and with politicians ashore. Their personal quirks and flaws, in turn, hindered their careers and helped shape their victories. Norton examines the exploits of John Manley, Silas Talbot, Dudley Saltonstall, Joshua Barney and John Paul Jones. Each is a fascinating study in the character of these courageous if often flawed naval commanders.

Help keep the lights on and beer flowing. Buy a book.

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