ulled this one of my late father’s shelf, one of those 1979 age-of-sail swashbucklers written by the great Alexander Kent. Just one from the shelf run by the same author, a tale of his hero, (now Flag Captain) Richard Bolitho, facing the events of The Great Mutiny.
See, I thought we were talking India, but no, this was apparently a massive mutiny that swept the Royal Navy at the time. It came as a poke in the eye to captains and their belief in rule by rank, that they could beat and punish anyone they damn well pleased. Concessions were forced yet the fallout continues as Captain Bolitho gains a new old-school admiral just before a desperate attempt is made to invade that joint Spanish/French lake, the Mediterranean. So yes, there’s lots on his plate.
It was an interesting novel, ranging along the coast of North Africa. There are spies, bomb vessels, invasions, dark fortresses, gales, fleet actions, mutinies (yeah, they didn’t quite stamp it all out, it seems), all the elements of a good yarn. And yes, I understand that these series are always cast in the same manner – a collection detailing the hero’s rise through the ranks, constant worries about promotion, pig-headed commanders and loyal crews; we’ve seen that with the Hornblower novels. While it’s pretty much expected, it’s still a formula that works time and time again.
And so, outside of the final battle (which seemed a bit of a disaster in the making) (I would have scattered my command and run, truthfully), it was a good solid read. Maybe I’ll have to borrow some more of Kent’s book from the Raymond Memorial Naval Library.