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A King's Commander : The Alan Lewrie Naval Adventures #7
Alan Lewrie is now commander of HMS Jester, an 18-gun sloop. Lewrie sails into Corsica only to receive astonishing orders: he must lure his archenemy, French commander Guillaume Choundas, into battle and personally strike the malevolent spymaster dead. With Horatio Nelson as his squadron commander on one hand and a luscious courtesan who spies for the French on the other, Lewrie must pull out all the stops if he's going to live up to his own reputation and bring glory to the British Royal Navy.
It's 1793 and lusty young Alan Lewrie of the British navy (H.M.S. Cockerel, etc.) is now commander of HMS Jester, patrolling the Ligurian Sea in order to support the onshore Austrian army, harass the French navy and remind various Italian states to mind their business. The main plot centers on Lewrie's attempts, goaded by the English spymaster Twigg, to catch and kill the French spymaster Choundas, a wonderfully malevolent enthusiast for the Terror known as "Le Hideux" ever since Lewrie horribly wounded and mutilated him nine years earlier. Le Hideux plots to rob a large British silver shipment and to capture Lewrie, hoping to torture and maim him, or at least to kill him. As usual, Lambdin offers a tersely effective explication of the political background-as well as an abundance of sea action (often described in language that will baffle landlubbers), depictions of shipboard life and discussions of the effective leadership style of Horatio Nelson, who's also on hand. There's also some superstitious talk about Celtic sea gods, annoying Franglais from Lewrie's doxy ("Wiz you, I am 'appy! Eef eet tak' time for to be ze grande lady, c'est dommage. I be mistress to one man, on'y. Vous!"), an occasional anachronism and a brief mention of the impending arrival of a young artillery officer "with the improbable name of Napoleon Bonaparte." Brisk and light, this is much closer to C.S. Forester's Hornblower series than to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin books, but it will please fans of historical nautical adventure nonetheless. (Feb.)
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December 31, 2007
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