Battles at sea, derring-do on land and a hefty dose of military intrigue fill the pages of this crisp new historical from Eccles ( The Barbary Run ). In the spring of 1797, most of the British Navy is tied up by a mutiny. The 54-gun Adamant , however, berthed in Liverpool, has avoided the mutineers and must soon venture forth to raid the French barge fleet at Brest. (The French and Dutch plan to invade England or Ireland soon.) Aboard the Adamant is 18-year-old midshipman John Lawson, a strapping son of Yorkshire yeoman stock about to set sail on an adventure that will include combat, capture, espionage, a budding romance and flight. Lawson is joined in his heroic exploits by the Adamant's Captain Brewster, a capable, up-from-the-ranks master who takes a shine to the younger man. Meanwhile, the several colorful villains who keep trouble brewing include another midshipman, cowardly but powerfully connected; a silver-tongued mutineer; a scheming first lieutenant; and a wily Irish spy. Brewster must endure a court of enquiry and Lawson must go face-to-face with the leader of the mutiny, but few readers will be surprised, and fewer still will be displeased, by the outcome and its unabashed honoring of stout hearts and stiff upper lips. (June)
The Napoleonic Wars of the late 1790s provide a background for this tale of mutiny, warfare, and espionage on the high seas. The British Navy, hard put to maintain its blockade of France, must deal with a fleetwide mutiny at home. HMS Adamant and the Russian sloop Catherine are detailed to maintain a show of force outside Brest Harbor wherein lay invasion barges to carry French troops to invade Ireland. To forestall this invasion, Captain Brewster of HMS Adamant and the Russians carry out a night raid to destroy the barges. This operation is complicated by rumors of mutiny in the British Navy and the aid of an Irish espionage agent whom no one fully trusts. Displaying excellent detail with finely crafted characters, this sea fiction novel is similiar in scope and execution to C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels, Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho books, and, more recently, Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series. Recommended for public libraries.-Harold N. Boyer, Camden Cty. Coll., Blackwood, N.J.