The lion is the Royal Navy's redheaded Midshipman George ""Ginger, Kelly Maguire, scruffy son of penniless Admiral (Ret.) Maguire, and the hero of what will obviously be a series based on exploits of Britannia's 20th-century navy. In this first installment we meet his great love Charlotte (""Charley"") Upfold, to whom he has been engaged since they were ""barely out of the nursery."" And we meet his immediate senior in the List, the intolerably snotty Midshipman James Caspar Verschoyle, whose extraordinary bastardliness makes him a rather likable rotter in the reader's eye if not Kelly's. He certainly steals every scene from Kelly that they share. From the panoramic opening, with beloved George V reviewing an armada of 250 warships (""even his pop eyes and knock knees seemed to lend him a sort of homeliness""), through the opening battles of the First World War, Midshipman Maguire receives a sobering education, on tragic duty in submarines in the Mediterranean, in pitched battle between Turks and Arabs on the desert, in exchanges with the German navy at the cataclysmic battle of Jutland in the North Sea where he rams a torpedo boat--and much more, plus a marvelously Neisonian eye wound. The action scenes are absolutely dynamic and the bonesplintering dialogue bloody wonderful. Hennessy will be hard put to equal this tremendous sneer of gusto in the Lion sequels to come.