A sweeping novel of maritime mutiny set against the backdrop of the French Revolution that evokes such masters as Patrick O'Brian and Bernard Cornwell.
At the time of the French Revolution, one of Britain's most skillful naval officers, Charles Saunders Hayden, is a young lieutenant, the son of an English father and a French mother. His abilities and his loyalty to the king of England are beyond dispute, yet his career seems doomed by his "mixed" heritage and lack of political connections. Consequently, Hayden is assigned to an aging frigate, the Themis, under the command of Captain Josiah Hart, a man known as "Faint Hart" throughout the service.
As the Themis takes to sea to harass the enemy, the disaffection of the crew begins to boil over into acts of violence, and the lieutenant finds himself caught between his superior and a crew pushed toward mutiny. A revolution at sea ensues, and Hayden is wrenchingly torn between honor and duty, as the magnificent Royal Navy engages the French in a centuries-old struggle for power.
This is a novel that satisfies on all levels, and will be loved by a wide range of readers: Patrick O'Brian's adoring literary following, as well as readers who love Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Jeff Shaara. Its scenes of maritime warfare match, and even surpass, O'Brian's for majesty and drama.
Russell's first-rate debut features taut plotting, liberal action and an attractively modest hero: Royal Navy Lt. Charles Hayden. In 1793, Britain is at war with revolutionary France, and Hayden, the son of an English father and a French mother, feels torn in half. Denied a promotion, he reluctantly accepts appointment as first lieutenant to the frigate Themis: the commander, Capt. Josiah Hart, has powerful connections in the Admiralty, but is widely disparaged among the fleet as a tyrannical coward. Hayden is dismayed to find the ship in a state of dreadful disarray, the crew on the verge of mutiny and Hart hostile to Hayden's remedial efforts. With the French in sight, tensions aboard come to a boil. Russell writes knowledgeably about late-18th-century naval warfare and lyrically about the sea. In Hayden, he has created a complex, sympathetic hero. (Sept.)
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September 06, 2007
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