A vivid tale of naval warfare in the days of sailing ships and global conflict, frogged jackets and all.
Jack Aubrey—who makes a cameo appearance here—never had it so tough as young Charles Edgemont. The commander of his fleet doesn’t much like him, for one thing. Moreover, once he’s broken free of said commander and fleet to strike off to find Lord Nelson and warn him of the foul deeds a-brewing on the part of the perfidious Frenchies, well, his pretty young Quaker wife decides to show up and lecture him on the evils of warfare, as well as correct his accounting and bug him to do nice things for the crofters back home. Still, ridden by the brass, tormented by a snotty junior officer who won’t show up for work, and admonished by his helpmeet, Edgemont does brave and glorious things across the face of the Mediterranean, eventually doing just the thing that’s needed—namely, finding where Napoleon’s fleets have gone off to and why. Spying was a different matter back then, of course, and so was fighting; and language is a different matter today, which makes for the occasional anachronisms in speech (“We feel it wouldn’t look good if Admiral St. Vincent doesn’t agree with the course of action you’ve chosen,” “But sweetheart, love of my life”) a touch jarring. Still, Worrall does a good job of evoking the tough conditions that faced England’s swabbies, what with splintering decks, exploding masts and inadequate wine, and he conjures up a pleasing tale of adventure on the high seas, concluding with a battle scene that is very well done.
Some good stuff throughout, but Worrall won’t immediately displace Patrick O’Brian in the hearts of seagoing readers.