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.
The plot in Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novels Sea of Grey, Havoc’s Sword, A King’s Trade, and Troubled Waters takes place in the context of slavery. Slavery in Haiti and British possessions in the West Indies, specifically, but more broadly in the context of the political and social struggle in Britain to abolish the slave trade.
The the aftermath of the mission covered in The Captain’s Vengeance, Dewey Lambdin’s naval hero, Alan Lewrie had returned to Jamaica to general acclaim. His seizure of the Spanish treasure ship had made himself and his superiors wealthy men and the piracy ring had been suppressed thereby demonstrating the long reach of the British navy. But his triumph was to be short-lived. In a private dinner with the deputy to the commander of the Jamaica Station, Lewrie finds that while the squadron is planning an exciting, and possibly profitable, mission against Spanish shipping, Lewrie will not be involved. Instead, he is being sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Major spoilers follow.
The Captain’s Vengeance picks up where Havoc’s Sword ended. Alan Lewrie and HMS Proteus are scouring the Caribbean to find a valuable prize that disappeared from Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica before a Prize Court could condemn it. The most likely suspect is a surly pressed seaman, Toby Jugg, who has a wife and children in Barbados. They visit his home and find his real name is Paddy Warder and he has an extensive history as a sailor and privateersman. However, she has not heard from him in some time.
Major spoilers follow.
USS Delaware takes the French privateer La Croyable off Egg Harbor, NJ
The Alan Lewrie novels Sea of Grey and Havoc’s Sword are set in the Caribbean during America’s Quasi War with France.
This war is one of the least known, and least written about, wars in our history. It has some modern significance as it was a war waged when most of the Founding Fathers were still alive and it was waged without a declaration of war. The war was waged at sea between 1798 and 1800
Havoc’s Sword, the eleventh of the Alan Lewrie novels by Dewey Lambdin is set in the Caribbean, and pickes up where Sea of Grey leaves off in the autumn of 1798.
The forces of Revolutionary France based in Guadaloupe are in disarray. A Royalist revolution has only recently been put down by Victor Hugues. France is trying to regain control of Haiti, now in the throes of the L’Ouverture rebellion, and go on the offensive against the British. Lewrie’s longtime foe, Guillaume Choundas, is assigned to the area as commander of French navy forces.
Major spoilers follow.
We periodically take side trips to geographical points so that places mentioned in novels set during the Age of Sail are presented in context (see our Geography category). We recently looked at syphilis and it’s treatment by calomel of mercury for the same reason.
We’ll now hit another disease which terrorized sailors and landsmen alike during the Age of Sail. Yellow fever, also known as yellow jack.
The list of ships, characters, and cultural references from Dewey Lambdin’s Alan Lewrie novel, Sea of Grey is available at scribd.com.