With the stunning high-seas adventure Sails on the Horizon, Jay Worrall introduced a bold new hero in the rousing tradition of Jack Aubrey: Charles Edgemont, an ambitious officer in His Britannic Majesty's navy. Raised to the rank of captain for gallantry under fire, Edgemont proved his mettle in the bruising British victory over the Spanish fleet at the Battle of St. Vincent. Now married and in command of the twenty-eight-gun frigate Louisa, the young captain sails toward a day of destiny-for himself and for England.
The year is 1798. The war between England and revolutionary France has reached a bloody stalemate, with England in the ascendancy at sea and France unchallenged on the Continent, thanks in large part to an unorthodox twenty-eight-year-old general named Napoleon Bonaparte. But the French, secretly amassing a powerful fleet, mean to break the impasse.
When rumors of the French preparations leak, the Admiralty dispatches a squadron of seven ships-among them the Louisa-under the command of Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson to investigate. Blindsided by a storm of ferocious intensity, the ships scatter across the seas.
After the storm subsides, the damaged frigates limp back to the rendezvous point. But there is no sign of Nelson's flagship, Vanguard, nor of two other ships of the line. Edgemont fears that the pugnacious rear admiral has pressed on with the mission.
Putting his career on the line by disobeying direct orders, Edgemont sets out in pursuit of Nelson and the French fleet on a treacherous voyage along the Tuscan coast. As tensions among the crew threaten to explode into open insubordination or worse, Edgemont makes an unexpected discovery in Naples that may seriously compromise his mission.
When the missing French fleet turns up off the shores of Egypt, conveying an army tens of thousands strong, Edgemont is suddenly thrown into a crisis of conscience. As circumstances grow dire and require heroic action, the fate of the crucial battle effectively lies in Edgemont's hands-as does the course of history.
Worrall brings dashing British naval Capt. Charles Edgemont back in this clever sequel to Sails on the Horizon. This time out, Edgemont joins rear admiral Horatio Nelson's squadron in the Mediterranean to search for a French fleet up to no good. When a storm scatters the squadron, Edgemont sails his frigate, Louisa, in search of Nelson--a search that becomes even more crucial when he learns the location of the French fleet at Alexandria, Egypt, from an English spy. After a series of adventures and misadventures, Edgemont finally stumbles on Nelson, and the squadron sails to Alexandria where it engages the French fleet in one of history's great naval battles--the Battle of the Nile. Worrall is well-versed in nautical history and writes with scrupulous authenticity without confusing the novice (despite the occasional "Haul the reef cringle"). The arrival on board of Edgemont's new wife, Penny, an independent and headstrong Quaker, gives Worrall an opportunity to have some fun as Penny attempts, as she says to Edgemont, to "manage thy properties." Combining engaging characters, witty dialogue and rousing action, Worrall's nautical series continues its promising start. (On sale Apr. 18)
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February 12, 2007
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Excerpt from Any Approaching Enemy by Jay Worrall
May 19, 1798
South of Cape Sicie, Gulf of Lion
EMERALD is signaling again, sir," lieutenant jacob Talmage reported with a heavy emphasis on the word "again." Talmage was the newly appointed first lieutenant to His Majesty's frigate Louisa, and at thirty-five was almost ten years older than her captain. "Sir, it's the second time. It says--"
"I know what it says, Mr. Talmage," Charles Edgemont interrupted. He stood by the weather rail of his quarterdeck with a long glass held up to one eye, the other screwed shut. He didn't need the telescope to read Emerald's signal flags, as she was only a mile and a half to the north. It was the surface of the sea beyond the larger British frigate that held his attention. "Captain Pigott wants us to add more sail," he said to prove that he'd seen the signal. He lowered the glass and turned toward the lieutenant. "He thinks we're lagging behind."
"Shall I give the orders, sir?" Talmage asked.
"Not yet, if you please. However, you may hoist the acknowledge." He glanced again at Emerald and her signal flags, numbers three-seven-four, Increase sail in conformity to weather. Pigott was flying all his plain sail from courses to royals and a full set of jibs. Louisa carried only topsails and topgallants in addition to her jib and mizzen. The wind was moderate enough for more canvas; the sky was a low dull gray, somewhat darker to the north. He'd checked the barometer in his cabin a quarter hour before and found it falling. The sea had a brisk chop, stirred by a gusting breeze, with just a hint of underlying swells, but its surface seemed uneven in the distance, unsettled. Add to that his ankle ached, a reminder of an earlier injury that didn't usually bother him. Something was wrong, but he couldn't put his finger on it. The air seemed . . . hollow.
A sharp bang echoed across the water. "Sir, she's fired a gun," Talmage said, clearly perturbed at Charles's inaction. The single cannon firing from Emerald was to emphasize the order to increase sail and to show Pigott's displeasure.
"All right," Charles said, irritated at Pigott for his impatience, irritated at Talmage for hectoring him, and irritated at himself for not being able to make up his mind. "Send the men into the rigging."
"Thank you, sir," Talmage said with both relief and exasperation in his voice.
"Just send them onto the yards, Mr. Talmage. That should please Pigott for the moment. Don't have them bend on any additional canvas just yet."
"But sir, you have been ordered--"
"I know my duty, both to Pigott and the king, thank you," Charles snapped, his patience wearing. "See to it, please." To forestall any further debate, he turned away to survey the rest of the small squadron spread out over the sea. They were seven ships in all, under the command of Horatio Nelson. The squadron constituted the first naval force the Admiralty had ordered into the Mediterranean in almost two years. Three were two-decker, seventy-four-gun ships of the line: Orion, Alexander, and Nelson's own flagship, Vanguard. These were hull down well to the south, and Charles could just see their masts in the distance.