IN GALLANT COMPANY by Alexander Kent


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The tenth Richard Bolitho novel about Britain's 18th-century navy brings Bolitho to the States in 1777, where and when he is third lieutenant aboard His Majesty's Trojan, a giant 80-gun ship of the line. Chronologically, this places In Gallant Company as second in the series, between the opening novel Richard Bolitho--Midshipman (1772) and his command of the Sparrow at the Battle of Chesapeake Bay in Sloop of War (1778). It is stiff, grim winter off Staten Island, as cold below decks as above, and this harshness of life aboard ship (the crew has lived on the ship for two years now, without women or other comforts) spans the entire novel. Although the story moves out to sea, as the Trojan repulses French and American privateers bringing arms and goods to General Washington, and down the coast to Charleston harbor and to the Caribbean, the surliness of deck life never changes, and there is always the grisliness of hand-to-hand battle to fear when the enemy is engaged. The authenticity throughout is enlivened by Bolitho's low status, by his view up the ladder of authority, and by his raw, impressionable heart. Kent's series has carried Bolitho to 1798 so far, but it has been announced that he will be in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), the Second American War (1812), and will be killed in action in 1815--an admiral. So we can look forward to barrels more of enjoyable realism that avoids the deeper horrors but is nevertheless quite bloody.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1977
ISBN: 0899669735
Publisher: Putnam