ARTEMIS by Julian Stockwin


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Brisk action on the high seas as Thomas Kydd (Kydd, 2001) makes the second of what bids fair to be a series of profitable voyages.

It’s 1793, and Napoleon is having much the better of it than the British army, but watch out. Here’s the British navy on the briny brink of becoming mighty. Doing his share—and loving it—is that erstwhile perruquier Thomas Kydd, who, six months earlier could never have imagined that life as a tar would suit him so. Six months earlier, in fact, he’d been forced out of wig-making and into the service, Kyddnapped, as it were, by a scavenging press-gang. But Tom, it turned out, was the stuff of naturals, and a lucky sailor, too, since in his new berth aboard the fleet frigate Artemis he gets a chance to share in the glory of a stirring victory at sea. It’s a pivotal one, achieved at the expense of the Citoyenne, a French frigate even larger than the Artemis. “Now we’ve proved they can be stopped,” exults Admiral Sir John Clowes when the stunning news reaches Portsmouth, where a few hours later Tom learns how it feels to be lionized. But roller-coasters go down as well as up. In Tom’s absence, the family business has not flourished, he’s informed by sister Cecilia. Either he returns to the wiggery, or the Kydds face desperate straits. No real choice, and so back to landlocked Guildhall goes dutiful, bitterly disappointed Tom. At this point enter Nicholas Rienzi, Tom’s closest friend, with the plan that makes possible a surprising new life for the Kydds while freeing Tom for a return to the sea and ports of call as far off as India and China. There await perils and trials galore, but the friends survive, and no right-thinking reader would have it otherwise.

Likable Tom and his shipmates make a snug fit in that page-turning Forester & O’Brian tradition—thanks to retired Royal Navy author Stockwin.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7432-1460-9
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002


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