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.