Another rollicking Lewrie adventure of iron men in wooden ships from Lambdin (Hostile Shores, 2013, etc.)
It’s 1807. Napoleon continues his mischief. Capt. Sir Alan Lewrie is ashore recuperating from a musket ball to the leg. Lambdin colorfully chronicles Lewrie’s restlessness at Anglesgreen and then in London as he awaits the Admiralty’s assignment decision. History buffs get an authentic picture of British life at the approach of the Regency era. Lewrie has his clubs, his wines and his failing romance with blue-blood divorcée Lydia Stangbourne. Finally, he gets Sapphire, a fourth-rate, two-decker, 50-gunner, a lumbering tub compared to his previous frigate command. With his faithful lieutenant Westcott, Lewrie learns Sapphire’s not a "happy ship," with the command opening up after a duel between the former captain and first lieutenant. London-based spies—the Foreign Office and the Secret Branch’s Twigg and Peel—tend to send Lewrie into harm’s way, and so Sapphire’s dispatched to Gibraltar, there to operate independently. En route, Sapphire captures a French sloop, and when guns are run out, Lambdin always offers a powder-reeking précis on fighting under sail. At Gibraltar, Lewrie’s former clerk Mountjoy is the Secret Branch’s agent. He and Lewrie organize amphibious coastal raids intending to convince Spain that the French alliance is a bad bargain. There’s fun for the history-minded on every page, from the complex operation of the great sailing ships to the language of the era, right down to Lewrie’s favorite oath, "Mine arse on a band-box!" Lewrie’s work is complicated by "the Dowager," the stolid British general commanding Gibraltar, especially after the general’s incompetent staff captain goes missing on a Sapphire raid.
Great fun on every page, and with more over the horizon.