King, Ship, and Sword (Alan Lewrie Naval Series #16)

King, Ship, and Sword (Alan Lewrie Naval Series #16)

by Dewey Lambdin


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312668198
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Series: Alan Lewrie Naval Adventures , #16
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 429,447
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

DEWEY LAMBDIN is the author of fifteen previous Alan Lewrie novels. A member of the U.S. Naval Institute and a Friend of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, he spends his free time working and sailing (he's been a sailor since 1976). He makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee, but would much prefer Margaritaville or Murrells Inlet.

Read an Excerpt


HMS Thermopylae, a 38-gun Fifth Rate frigate, prowled slowly off the Texel to keep a wary eye on the Dutch coast . . . for several years a conquered “allied” power under French control, now named the Batavian Republic. It was a sullen endeavour for Thermopylae’s people, for the Dutch had not much of a fleet left since the Battle of Camperdown, four years before, in 1797, when Adm. Duncan had caught them, headed for the English Channel to combine with their French masters’ fleet for an invasion of Great Britain, had forced them to run for home close inshore of their own coast, where Duncan had given them the choice of wrecking on their own shoals or fighting, and had taken, sunk, or burned almost all of them. By now, the few surviving Batavian warships were slowly rotting away at their moorings, their new construction rotting on the stocks, and all their vaunting plans for a larger fleet scrapped.

Sullen, too, was the general attitude aboard Thermopylae after months of dull blockade duty, for it could not hold a candle to the heady and daring adventures of the first of the year of 1801. As the League of Armed Neutrality had readied their navies to confront the Royal Navy, it had been Thermopylae that had been ordered into the Baltic—alone!—to “smoak out” the types and numbers of ships being prepared in Danish, Swedish, and Russian harbours, to determine the thickness of the ice that kept all Baltic navies penned in port, and to ascertain how long it would be before the ice would melt and free them.

Oh, there’d also been the delivery of a pair of Russian nobles to somewhere as close as possible to St. Petersburg . . . one of whom had tried to kill their new captain as they were being set ashore, an attempted murder right by the entry-port . . . all over a London whore, of all things! . . . And for certain the younger Roosky was love-sick mad, but what could be expected of foreigners, and wasn’t their new captain a scrapper, thought

Out of the Baltic at last, and there’d been their own British Expeditionary squadrons under Vice- Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, and Vice- Admiral Horatio Nelson, and they’d been just in time to take part in the glorious Battle of Copenhagen and squash the Danes like so many roaches round the galley butter tubs!

All downhill from there, though; first cruising in the Baltic ’til midsummer, watching first Vice- Admiral Parker go home (in a bit of disgrace, the hands had heard-tell) then Nelson departing for his always fragile health, and, at last, a spell of re-victualling and repairs at Great Yarmouth, where the adventures had begun, and a spell of shore liberty. After that, Thermopylae had been seconded to the small North Sea Fleet to serve as a scout, doing much of a boresome much as they did this morning . . . making her presence known under reduced sail about two leagues seaward of the shoals, and counting windmills, for all they good “people” Thermopylae of “people” knew.

In a thin and fine mist on this particular morning, a cold early-October rain was falling and dripping in great dollops from sails and rigging, over a grey and dingy-white-foamed sea that chopped and hissed and imparted to the frigate a slow and queasy wallowing roll. And the wind . . . if freed, Thermopylae could cup that wind and rush like a Cambridge coach, high on eleven knots or better . . . yet that wind was wasted on her twice-reefed or gathered sails. And it was a nippy wind, to boot, a raw-un out of the Nor’west, fresh from Arctic ice sheets that made nettled tars wish for their Franklin-pattern stoves to be set up on the gun-deck once again, blow warm breaths into cupped fists, and shiver under their tarred tarpaulins.

HMS Thermopylae’s Second Officer, Lt. James Fox, let out a pleased sigh as a ship’s boy turned the half-hour glass, then slowly struck Eight Bells up by the forecastle. His watch was done, and hot tea or coff ee awaited him in the gun-room below, along with his breakfast. Lt. Fox clapped gloved hands together in joy as his replacement, his old chum Lt. Dick Farley, stepped from the lee side of the quarterdeck to amidships before the double- helm drum and the binnacle cabinet to assume command of the Forenoon Watch.

“A thouroughly miserable day, and I wish ye joy of it, Dick,” Lt. Fox said with a grin and a roll of his eyes.

“Worse things happen at sea, Jemmy,” Lt. Farley replied as he formally doff ed his hat, a second-best and much-battered old thing with its gilt lace gone verdigris green. Fox’s wasn’t a whit better.

“Just thinking that, in point of fact,” Lt. Fox quipped. “So, the usual . . . wind’s still Nor’westerly, we’re beam- reaching, as anyone can clearly see, course Nor’East, half East, and making six agonisingly slow knots. What’s for breakfast?”

“Scrambled eggs, cheese, and biscuit, speaking of usual,” Lt. Farley replied. “Has the captain determined whether we’ll exercise at the great-guns this morning?”

“Hasn’t said yet,” Lt. Fox replied, letting a yawn escape him. “Damme, I was hoping for hot porridge. Do we drill on the artillery, I’d prefer a steadier point of sail.”

“Aye, this roll’d be a bugger,” Lt. Farley agreed.

“Well, I leave you to it, Dick,” Fox said, cheering up.

“I relieve you, sir,” Lt. Farley said with another doff of his hat, and the Second Officer, along with his Midshipmen of the Watch, and the Starboard Watch of the quarterdeck and Afterguard, were scrambling below, some to their breakfasts, some to the uncertain warmth of the gun- deck.

Right aft, and just below the quarterdeck in the great-cabins, Captain Alan Lewrie was shaving . . . or trying to. It was not a chore comfortably, or safely, done in such a wallowing, rolling sea-way, in the small mirror of his wash- hand stand with a straight razor. Lewrie had to brace himself like a runner frozen in mid-stride, his left leg behind him and his right in front, balancing from one to the other as Thermopylae heaved from beam to beam like a metronome, about fifteen degrees or better to each roll. He could have sat himself down in a chair, but would be without the mirror, or the small enamelled basin that held his single pint of water ration for washing daily.

“Get out of it, ye bloody little. . . . !” Lewrie snapped as Chalky, the younger and spryer of his cats, leaped atop the wash- hand stand for the third time, fascinated in equal measure by the lapping water in the basin

and his reflection in the mirror. “Shoo! Scat! Pettus!”

“Sir?” his cabin steward replied, carefully hiding his smile.

“Isn’t there some amusement ye could offer him?” Lewrie griped.

“I’ll take him, sir,” Pettus off ered, coming to scoop up the white and grey-splotched cat and bear him away, spraddled atop his forearm. An instant later, and it was Toulon, the bigger and older (and clumsier) blackand-white tom that wished to see what had taken Chalky’s attention, but his leap was just a tad off (blame it on the roll) and he went tumbling back to the deck, with the hand towel in his paws. Mrrf! he carped, tail bottled up in disgrace. Then Marr! as he looked up plaintively at Lewrie, as if to ask if he’d seen that flub.

“I still love ye t’death, Toulon,” Lewrie commiserated, bending down to retrieve the hand towel and give the embarrassed cat a “wubbie” or two. He had to grin, for there had been scraped-off shaving soap on the towel, and Toulon had gotten some of it on his whis kers, which made him go slightly cross-eyed trying to see it and swipe it off , sitting up rabbit- fashion and whacking away with both paws.

Thermopylae rose up to a rare scending wave and heaved another slow roll to starboard, timbers, masts and windward stays groaning in concert, and Lewrie half- staggered almost to amidships before catching himself. “Mine arse on a band-box!” he hissed under his breath, using one of his favourite expressions. That stagger involved some complicated foot stamping, which only drove the cat under the starboard-side settee, into relative darkness where Toulon could blink in shame and in umbrage, consulting his cat gods.

The larboard roll took Lewrie back to the wash-hand stand, where he took a firm grip with one hand and braced himself for another stab at shaving.

“Um . . . might you need me to do it for you, sir?” Pettus asked.

“No no, Pettus!” Lewrie countered with a false grin on his phyz, “Done for meself for years, in worse weather than this. Dined out on my dexterity!”

“If you say so, sir,” Pettus replied with a dubious expression.

Once he’d scraped his whis kers as close as he dared, without cutting his own throat, Lewrie swabbed his face, tied his neck-stock, and donned his uniform coat. He made a careful way forrud to the dining-coach and his table, and his breakfast.

It was a Banyan Day, without any salt- meat issue, and after a miserable two months on blockade, a paltry and dull breakfast it was. There was oatmeal porridge, boiled up in water, not milk, and livened with a daub of rancid butter and a largish dollop of strawberry preserves. There was a slab of cheese from his own stores, not that crumbling, dry-as-sawdust Navy issue so beloved of the Victualling Board, but even that was beginning to go over, though showed no signs of red worms yet. And there was ship’s biscuit. Lewrie had purchased extra-fine for himself, but it was tough going, even after being soaked in water for the better part of an hour before being served, and, did he wish to keep his remaining teeth, he’d chew it hellish-careful. There was coffee, at least, with sugar grated off a cone from his locking caddy, and sweet goat’s milk from the nanny up forrud in the manger.

Lewrie turned his eyes towards the cats’ dish at the far end of his table, where a reassured Toulon and a cocky Chalky were having their own porridge, laced with cut-up sausages and jerkied beef, and felt a trifle envious!

With his second piping- hot cup of coffee, Lewrie considered one more biscuit, and peered into the bread barge . . . just in time to see the weevils crawling out of the last piece. No thankee! he thought.

“I’ll be on deck, Pettus,” Lewrie said, shoving back from his plate and rising. “Shove me into my boat-cloak, and I’m off .”

“Captain’s on deck!” Midshipman Tillyard announced to one and all as Lewrie trotted up the larboard gangway ladder from the waist. “Morning, sir,” Tillyard added, with a hand to his hat.

“And a dull’un, Mister Tillyard,” Lewrie replied, his own right hand touching the front of his cocked hat. “Good morning to you, Mister Far-ley. Anything of interest to report?”

“Good morning, Captain. No, nothing of interest so far, sorry to say,” the First Officer told him. Lewrie began to pace the windward side of the quarterdeck, with Farley in-board of him. “The mast- head lookouts have reported seeing some of those canal barges under sail behind the dikes, every now and then, but I can’t imagine a way to get at them, not through those shoals, yonder.”

“Seemed an organised sort o’ thing?” Lewrie asked. “Or merely a civilian barge or two?”

“We’ve gathered they’re singletons, sir, swanning along slowly in both directions,” Lt. Farley said in answer as they reached the flag lockers and taffrail lanthorns right aft, forcing them both to turn inwards and reverse their course. “One or two with washing strung up, and women aboard, and not more than two of those could be described as being close together.”

“Dull as Dutchmen,” Lewrie decided aloud, with a sigh.

“Unfortunately, sir,” Lt. Farley agreed.

“Dead-boresome,” Lewrie said further.

“Indeed, sir,” Farley said with a nod.

“I’m so bored,” Lewrie admitted. “A cutter could perform this duty better. A frigate’s wasted on close blockade.”

“I fear we all are, sir. Bored, that is,” Farley told him. “Ah, about drill on the great-guns, sir . . .”

“Not with this bloody rolling, Mister Farley. Not today. We’d be safer at pike and cutlass work. And musketry, aye!” Lewrie said in suddenly brighter takings. “One hour o’ cut an’ thrust, then an hour o’ musketry at a towed keg.”

“Very good, sir,” Lt. Farley said with a relieved grin.

“Deck, there!” a lookout on the main- mast cross-trees shouted down. “Cutter off th’ larboard quarter, hull up, an’ makin’ signal!”

No more’n eight or nine miles off, Lewrie decided to himself as he turned to peer to windward. Even from the deck, he could faintly make out a dingy white triangle of sail—a set of triangular jibs and a gaff - rigged fore- and-aft mains’l barely peeking from behind the jibs— with a tiny splotch of colour at her mast- head that presumably was a national ensign. Perhaps the lookout had better eyes to espy the even tinier signal hoist from so far away.

“Aloft with you, Mister Pannabaker,” Lt. Farley ordered one of the younger Midshipmen of the Forenoon Watch, “and mind you don’t drop the glass.”

“Aye, sir!” young Pannabaker, Thermopylae’s cockiest “younker,” piped up in reply, scrambling for a long telescope, then hopping atop the weather bulwarks for the mizer-mast shrouds. Quick as a cat, and as agile as an ape, he was at the mizen top, then to its cross-trees in a dozen eye-blinks.

“Come to spell us, one’d hope,” Lewrie said with a yawn, rocking impatiently on the balls of his booted feet.

“She’s the Osprey, sir!” Pannabaker shouted down in his thin and high voice. “This month’s private signal, and ‘Have Despatches,’ sir!”

“Mister Tillyard, do you hoist ‘Acknowledged’ to Osprey, and I s’pose we’ll just loaf along . . . as we’re already doing . . .’til she’s close aboard.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

“Hmm, sir,” Lt. Farley commented, drawing Lewrie’s attention to his First Lieutenant, whose face bore a pensive, wolfish grin. It was not the done thing to speculate, but . . .

“I’d not get my hopes up, Mister Farley,” Lewrie had to say to him. “The Baltic powers’ve had quite enough of us. . . . The Dutch can’t put a rowing boat regatta to sea . . . and, are the French out, I doubt they’ve business in the North Sea. One’d wish, but . . . ,” he concluded with a shrug.

“They also serve, who only stand and wait, I suppose, sir,” Lt. Farley replied, seeming to slump into his tarpaulin coat.

“Indeed,” Lewrie said with a very bored grimace.

Excerpted from King, Ship, and Sword by Dewey Lambdin.

Copyright © 2010 by Dewey Lambdin.

Published in January 2010 by St. Marin's Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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King, Ship, and Sword (Alan Lewrie Naval Series #16) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Shuffy2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is peace between England and France but for how long? Will it last long enough for a quick second honeymoon for Captain Lewrie and his wife Caroline?Captain Lewrie goes to France with more on his mind than rekindling romance with his wife; he decides to combine business with pleasure. He uses his visit to offer up captured French swords in exchange for his own captured sword, held by Napoleon himself. However everywhere Lewrie turns he seems to bump into a person from his past- and they all hold grudges and want him dead! Will Captain Lewrie and his wife make it out of France alive?I got this book not realizing it is part of a series, I was looking for a Royal Navy adventure and was disappointed as 3/4 of this book takes place on land. That being said, I was also unaware of the past experiences of the main character Captain Lewrie however without the background ofthe previous noveld I was still able to follow the storyline. However best bet would be to start at the beginning...
aprillee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The tale opens with Captain Lewrie still in the Baltic and in a very cold and boring sort of limbo with the total lack of action as the Peace of Amiens comes into effect. And there's only losing his ship which is to be sent into ordinary at the end of it. It has been said before that Lewrie can fall into more dangerous scrapes upon land than at sea, so a period of peace, no matter how brief, is worrying. And yet, an idyllic time spent with his family at his house in Anglesgreen through the winter holidays comes as a lovely change of pace (even while wondering WHEN the other shoe will drop). This is all told with some seriousness and little dash, which had me wondering if Lambdin had taken a somber more literary tone for this book. However, things change when the Lewries take a second honeymoon of sorts in Paris of all places! Old enemies and new just come piling out of the woodwork, as well as the never-all-that-helpful English spy-types. And for those who demand actual Naval Adventure in a series so en(sub)titled, there is that, too, with a new ship and crew and some old friends (no obvious old enemies, but that's only a matter of time!). The sixteenth book in a series is never a perfect place to start, so new readers are directed to the first: THE KING'S COAT, a fantastic read. Readers who have made it this far are either masochists or devoted fans or ??? but should know what to expect by now (or one should think!). I simply adore this series. It's full of lively adventure, great historical details and a main character worthy of following through such an extended series. I can't wait for the next book!
wmorton38 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the most land locked naval adventure I have ever read. The characters spend more time in carriages than on board ship. The main character is more Flashman than Hornblower and, in fact, the whole novel is very like the Flashman novels: roguish hero, breezy prose style, famous historical & fictional characters turning up. Alan Lewrie is on half pay because of a (temporary) peace with the French and he and his wife decide on a trip to Paris in the hiatus. They get to meet Napoleon and because of a misunderstanding (and some old enemies) the Lewrie¿s are on the run for their lives. My main annoyance with the novel was the fact that Lewrie seemed to keep running into old lovers and enemies (sometimes the same people) every time he turned a corner. But it is still a quite enjoyable brown earth/blue water adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Caroling dies in this novel in the most ridicules way. This was very frustrating since she is the only decent human being in Allan's life and Dewey decided to eliminate her so, I assume, Allan doesn't even have to worry about a wife anymore. A very disappointing end, for me anyways, to a series that for some time now had gotten pretty repetitive, and the only story line of any interest was the development of Allan's personal life, but instead of repairing it, Dewey keeps shoving it down the drain. In hindsight, I should have stopped three or 4 books ago.
Scaramouche1 More than 1 year ago
Excellent series. Well research and well written. Which is hard to do over 16 books.
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CarlaN More than 1 year ago
History, action, romance, friendship, travel, it's all here in the Alan Lewrie series. I've read them all and loved every one.
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diveintoadventures More than 1 year ago
sorry- not yet- see above.
Va_Trucker More than 1 year ago
An excellent read for both experienced, and novice "Alan Lewrie" readers. The historical & geographic references are well researched, which brings an authenticity to Lambdin's novels. Reading about the "Ram Cat's" adventures is certainly entertaining, but they also give the readers an historical perspective that you aren't going to get from a dry history book. Part of the book deals with Lewrie ashore, which of course is a recipe for disaster. The rest is Captain Lewrie on his quarterdeck, his natural element. If this is your first historical naval fiction novel, be prepared to read everything you can get your hands on.