In 1804, a small force led by a contingent of U.S. Marines sets out to defeat a much larger army and capture Tripoli.
After years of wandering, Henry Doyle, the bastard son of an Irishman and raised by Mohawk Indians, is now a soldier of fortune in North Africa. He finds himself working with the Americans—the very people who massacred the Mohawk and drove him from his native land—as they attempt to invade Tripoli and place an American puppet on the throne, putting an end to years of piracy and, in the process, setting free several hundred American sailors captured by the brutal Pasha of Tripoli. Meanwhile, in the Mediterranean, Capt. Peter Kirkpatrick, who, unbeknownst to both men is Doyle’s half-brother, is a rising star in the U.S. Navy in command of the USS Eagle. Doyle and Kirkpatrick support William Eaton, a former officer in the Army who is leading the assault on Tripoli. But the mission is opposed by powerful forces—and elements within the U.S. military—who work to undermine Eaton at every step, making the odds of success for the ragtag Army very slim indeed. Written in crisp, compelling prose, the plot is deeply rooted in history. The action sequences, especially the naval encounters, are exceedingly well-done, full of enough detail to bring them to life without bogging down the action. The breadth of the author’s knowledge of history, local culture, military and naval technology and strategy of the time, religion, language and more is simply staggering, and the dialogue is clear, but peppered with enough period detail to make it ring true. Although Doyle’s story is somewhat farfetched, it is at least possible, and the characters here are developed enough to make such minor credulity stretching easy to overlook. The plot is labyrinthine, but readers who follow it carefully will be richly rewarded.
An exceptional book, full of rich historical and cultural detail, great characters and thrilling action scenes.