Under Enemy Colors

( 34 )

Overview


Born to an English father and a French mother, lieutenant Charles Saunders Hayden?s career is damned by his ?mixed? heritage. Assigned to the HMS Themis, an aging frigate under the command of a captain reviled by his crew for both his brutality towards his men and his cowardice in battle, Hayden is torn between honor and duty, as the British navy engages the French in a centuries-old struggle for power.
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Overview


Born to an English father and a French mother, lieutenant Charles Saunders Hayden?s career is damned by his ?mixed? heritage. Assigned to the HMS Themis, an aging frigate under the command of a captain reviled by his crew for both his brutality towards his men and his cowardice in battle, Hayden is torn between honor and duty, as the British navy engages the French in a centuries-old struggle for power.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Russell's first-rate debut features taut plotting, liberal action and an attractively modest hero: Royal Navy Lt. Charles Hayden. In 1793, Britain is at war with revolutionary France, and Hayden, the son of an English father and a French mother, feels "torn in half." Denied a promotion, he reluctantly accepts appointment as first lieutenant to the frigate Themis: the commander, Capt. Josiah Hart, has powerful connections in the Admiralty, but is widely disparaged among the fleet as a tyrannical coward. Hayden is dismayed to find the ship in "a state of dreadful disarray," the crew on the verge of mutiny and Hart hostile to Hayden's remedial efforts. With the French in sight, tensions aboard come to a boil. Russell writes knowledgeably about late-18th-century naval warfare and lyrically about the sea. In Hayden, he has created a complex, sympathetic hero. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Military.com
Lieutenant Hayden is one of the most compelling and attractive heroes to appear in some time...This nascent series has ample firepower for a long run.
Midwest Book Review
[A] strong naval saga with vivid sea battles, strong characterizations, and a deep sense of time and place.
Library Journal

Fans of Patrick O'Brian's works and other novels in the naval adventure genre will enjoy Russell's first novel, which takes place aboard the HMS Themisduring the 1793 naval war between England and revolutionary France. The Themissets sail with a crew on the verge of mutiny, owing to Capt. Josiah Hart's cowardice and cruelty. Battles with both the crew and the French navy insure a fast-paced and eventful narrative as the novel builds toward a climactic confrontation between Hart and 1st Lt. Charles Hayden. The contrast between Hayden's heroism and Hart's villainy often seems a bit too sharply drawn; however, Russell produces a satisfying resolution to their conflict while avoiding a storybook happy ending. The novel benefits from thorough research and a mastery of the technical details of sailing in the 1790s, though lines like "the back line, reeved through a block made fast to one of the shear heads, was then hauled" will have landlubbers frequently reaching for their nautical dictionaries. Russell is currently working on a sequel to be set in the Mediterranean in 1794. Recommended for medium to large libraries.
—Douglas Southard

Kirkus Reviews
A young British officer takes to the high seas in this seafaring adventure circa 1793. Debut novelist Russell delves deep into the oceans popularized by Patrick O'Brian to launch a new series about his own budding Master and Commander. The author's classically flavored adventure tale is slow to get moving, but ultimately the book's resourceful, conflicted hero carries the day. This book is set during the glory years of the British Navy leading up to the Napoleonic Wars, and its leading man is Lieutenant Charles Hayden, a rising officer in a growing British fleet in desperate conflict with France. Though his military record is sound, he finds it difficult to gain trust owing to his complicated lineage-a French mother and an American father do not suggest a loyal servant to Queen and country. Nevertheless, Hayden's Francophone talents and resolute spirit are both put to the test during his first assignment. He is assigned to the Themis, a newly built vessel that has been spoiled by its self-indulgent master. Captain Hart is a corpulent hack with political connections who has strong compulsions for both rum and the lash. In addition to his regular duties, Hayden must temper Hart's unbalanced leadership, take the measure of the rogues and misfits under his command and keep an eye out for a murderous mutineer who lurks among the men. The young lieutenant must also whip the crew into fighting shape to take on the French privateers gunning for his ship's hull and somehow follow the maniacal orders of his cowardly captain, including a poorly thought-out and potentially deadly incursion into enemy territory. This tale of the Age of Sail is a bit languid in places, owing chiefly to its historicalrichness, but it finds its wind soon enough. A colorful account of duty and honor, punctuated by the cannonade of naval warfare.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425223628
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 11/4/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 115,816
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

S. Thomas Russell is a life-long sailor whose passion for the sport—and love of Patrick O'Brian's seafaring novels— inspired Under Enemy Colors.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(10)

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(3)

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2009

    A must read for Patrick O'Brian fans!

    As an avid fan of the Aubrey-Maturin novels from the late Patrick O'Brian, I have been in serious reader depression ever since reading through his entire series of incredibly well-written works. His writing is unmatched by any modern author that I have found, and every book I have read since has left me longing for O'Brian's wonderful way with words.

    While this new novel from Thomas Russell doesn't quite match up to the masterfully crafted Master and Commander series in every way, it remains an excellent read for any fan of historical fiction. While the dialogue isn't quite as clever and well developed as much of O'Brian's, Russell's story moves much more quickly, and will keep even the more casual reader on the edge of his seat. Russell also avoids getting bogged down in too much detail about the art of sailing, and readers will sympathize with, and enjoy getting to know the main character.

    It was inevitable that this new work would be compared to O'Brian's series. Many have probably set the bar too high in the shadow of his great works. This reader, however, enjoyed Under Enemy Colors and is anxiously awaiting the second in the series.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2009

    Top Notch Historical Sailing Novel

    This book was a great read and very well written. As a sailor myself, the author's attention to detail and accuracy in the matters of sailing an 18th century war vessel was wonderful. The characters were interesting and the main character well developed.

    I eagerly await the next novel referenced as coming out in 2009.

    Those that think this was a boring novel don't understand the nature of topic that Sean Russell has so wonderfully written about.

    If you are a sailor, get the book - you'll love it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Finally a book that finishes with closing enough of the book, but leaving a few questions unanswered.

    For to long it has gone on that the greatest thing in the world to do was to end a book without finishing the story. I enjoyed the plot of this book, it was a great read. A page turner. It found that right spot to leave the reader questions that weren't answered, and solved the problems that were the core of the story. I would recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2008

    Hornblower/Aubrey fans rejoice

    As a huge history novel nut and fan of the Hornblower and Aubrey series, I was highly skeptical when I first saw the cover of Under Enemy Colors, thinking 'Oh great, another late-18C-British-Naval-Officer-with-no-interest novel.' I picked up a copy regardless, and oh my what a pleasant suprise I was in for. Read the whole novel in one sitting (ended up going to bed at 5 AM. Only disappointment is that this is the first book in hopefully what will become a long and fruitfull series, and I have to wait in the dark until the next novel comes out.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2007

    A reviewer

    There are very few authors left today who venture into historical fiction. Most authors have dipped into the modern thrillers that are so popular today. This book is a great look into the late 18th century when the sea was ruled by the might of the British Navy. The story itself is full of well-developed characters and adventures that will keep you turning the pages. The book has a little bit of everything from naval warfare to a bit of spy games. This book is a fresh look at the historical fiction genre and certainly one of the best novels I've read in a long while. Not since John Jakes' North and South trilogy have I been so impressed by a novel! I can only hope to see more of the same from this author!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent late eighteenth century military thriller

    In 1793 the hostilities between France and England leaves some people with divided loyalties. For instance, Royal Navy Lieutenant Charles Saunders Hayden is the offspring of an English father and a French mother although he does his duty with honor in support of England and the crown. However, being half-French makes his chances for promotions nil and his loyalty questioned his superior officers distrust him in spite of his proven record. Denied once again a promotion he earned, he is assigned as the first lieutenant to the frigate Themis commanded by Captain Josiah ¿Faint¿ Hart, who got and kept his job due to political connections at the highest level of the Admiralty in spite of being an incompetent and a coward. Hayden is stunned by the Themis being closer to mothball shape rather than in war condition and the crew appears ready to jump ship. As combat with the French is imminent, Hart wants to sail away, but needing a fall guy openly tears into Hayden accusing him of being a French enemy combatant of England. --- This late eighteenth century military thriller grips the audience with its insightful look at war at sea. Charles is fantastic protagonist who keeps the exciting story line together as a victim of bias and inferior superior officers who got their position due to connections even in 1793 political hacks are given technical leadership jobs so that when a crisis occurs they can fail and blame others. Historical readers will cherish this strong naval saga with vivid sea battles, strong characterizations, and a deep sense of time and place with the reminder that those who ignore history repeat the mistakes of the past. --- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2012

    Excellent story, highly recommended

    This is an exceptionally good book. Once I began reading, I simply had to keep going. The characters, the historic details, the story line, everything about this work recommends itself. I highly encourage all interested readers to consider this novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2010

    Carrying on the Tradition

    Mr. Russell's novel is a delightful read in much the same vein as Patrick O'Brian's Aubry/Maturin series. Characters are well developed, if not entirely original. The narrative descriptions are transporting putting the reader in the middle of each ship hearing the snap of the sails and the creak of the rigging. The themes of duty and honor are not particularly original but stand the test of time and Mr. Russell gives them a new standard-bearer in Charles Hayden. Will be buying copies for the guys in my family to enjoy but I am keeping my own as it will hopefully become the first of a collection. Can't wait to read A Battle Won this August.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Highly recommended

    If you like Patrick O'Brian you will love this!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty good not great.

    I am not an avid reader of 18th century sailing novels so this is one of the few such books that I have read.

    I thought that it was an interesting story. I did find it a little slow and some of the situations seemed a bit drawn out, while other plot lines did not seem to lead anywhere.

    Over all it was a good book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Boring, rambling and pretentious

    This novel has little to recommend it. I am a fan of the O'Brian novels as well as the Forester novels. The writing in this poor offering do not belong in the same league as those two novelists. The writer rambles on for pages with pointless and tired dialog that does nothing to move the plot or reveal the nature of the characters. The situations are hopelessly contrived, the villians all cardboard cutouts. A waste of time for anyone who likes a good sea novel.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 3, 2010

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    Posted January 6, 2011

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    Posted February 9, 2009

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    Posted August 17, 2011

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    Posted June 18, 2010

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    Posted January 22, 2012

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    Posted January 12, 2010

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    Posted October 13, 2010

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