Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Under Enemy Colors (Charles Hayden, #1)” as Want to Read:
Under Enemy Colors (Charles Hayden, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Under Enemy Colors (Adventures of Charles Hayden #1)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  1,491 Ratings  ·  133 Reviews
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Putnam Adult (first published August 31st 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Under Enemy Colors, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Under Enemy Colors

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Tim The Enchanter
My #6 favorite read of 2013

A superb 5 Stars

A riotous high seas adventure filled with mutiny, inept leaders, cannons, court marshals and one entertaining half French, half English hero.

Many times during the reading of this book I stopped and said to myself "this is a superb!" I wasn't kidding myself. It really was. Personally, well written historical fiction is the best and most entertaining type of novel. Under Enemy Colors had all of the things that I look for in good HF.

The setting and cha
Apr 16, 2013 C. rated it did not like it
Full disclosure: I am an huge fan of the Patrick O'Brian's novels and I was intrigued by the descriptions of this one. I have rarely been more disappointed in a novel. Certainly, this novel (and it's sequel, which is a poorer effort than this one) are not the worst I have read, but they are among the dregs.

The main problem is that the author has no feeling for the period at all -- he writes like someone who read someone once and is trying to remember what he read. He has picked up bits of jargon
Apr 14, 2016 Jane rated it really liked it
My first nautical novel since my reading Hornblower novels and Bounty Trilogy of years past. This one engaged my interest all through. The hero, Charles Hayden, of mixed parentage [French mother, English father] is assigned as first lieutenant to the Themis, under the tyrannical and "shy" [read cowardly] Captain Hart. I conceived Hart as sort of a mixture of Bligh and Queeg, but with his own peculiarities. The men are mutinous. Charles must contend with his captain and crew. There's much action ...more
Sep 29, 2008 Johnny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is Under Enemy Colors predictable? Yes! Does the protagonist bear significant resemblance to Ramage, Bolitho, Hornblower, Aubrey, and every other hero with a series of adventures in the Age of Fighting Sail? Yes!

However, I prefer the writing style to that of O'Brian and place it right up there with my personal favorite, Alexander Kent's Bolitho novels. Russell's protagonist is, as you may have already guessed, another officer in the Royal Navy who has great courage and competence but little infl
Of all the naval fiction I have read so far this is by far my favorite book.

Charles Hayden is the product of a English father and a French mother. This is a reoccurring theme throughout the book as Hayden struggles to come to terms with a war that pits him against his beloved childhood home in France. The fact that he speaks flawless French does come in handy in many of the situations he finds himself.
Given the job of being second in command to a tyrannical, cowardly captain, he must find a wa
This is no Patrick O’Brian, that’s for sure. But hey, it doesn’t have to be. Under Enemy Colours covers a whole different niche of the Age of Sail novel: It is more like a combination of an adventure novel and a crime novel, rather than straight historic fiction. Whereas your average volume of the Aubreyad might almost better be called a social novel, Under Enemy Colours sets its whole focus on telling a fast paced story with as many exciting episodes as possible.

The book is very honest and upf
You could certainly compare this book to the work of Patrick O'Brian--but why bother? Sailors, cannonballs--but other than that? O'Brian's world is filled with richly imagined, deeply believable characters sailing oceans of majesty and terror and the profoundest beauty. This fellow Russell's sailors are lifeless wooden mannequins and the sea they sail upon is a place where dreary things happen but never anything unpredictable.

In the acknowledgments section--to be found at the rear of the book,
I am not a voracious consumer of naval fiction, I will admit that immediately. I know the basic facts of ships, like the location of the bow, stern, bilge...etc. Yeah, so this went just a bit over my head at parts. Luckily, I am not quite so bad with the time period and the ranks in the British navy, so I wasn't always lost. And, at times, Russell did make an effort to explain the more intricate words and phrases, so that was appreciated.

The plot itself was absolutely nothing new. Bad captain, m
Jan 15, 2012 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I have been after for a while, and when I got it for Christmas I ripped into it with a fervour. And boy did it entertain, an easy a Five Stars as I have ever given.

The plot line was amazingly done. There were parts where I wondered where it was all going, with there seeming to be a few individuals plots thrown in there, but the way that it was all brought together was brilliant. It gave me endless entertainment, grabbing me from the start and not letting go - I swear, this
Feb 24, 2009 Erik rated it really liked it
A decade after the passing of Patrick O’Brian, the preeminent Napoleonic-era British naval novelists and successor of C. S. Forester, naval fiction lovers have to scour this slowly growing genre for the next great thing. For my part I have found Julian Stockwin’s Thomas Kydd series to fit the bill. But as my fellow Kydd-fans and I have to wait about a year or so between until the next book in the series comes out – a lifetime, if you ask me – I believe I have found another nascent series that lo ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing
Sean Thomas Russell was born in Toronto, Canada and now resides on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Mr. Russell successfully has joined the ranks of writers of naval fiction. He joins many of my favorite writers in this genre such as C.S. Forester, Alexander Kent and Dudley Pope. His first novel UNDER ENEMY COLORS (ISBN 978-0425223628, trade paperback, $17.00) was published in 2007 and has recently been released as a trade paperback. The book is nearly 500 pages long. In the series, there a ...more
Dec 12, 2011 AndrewP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Napolionic Royal navy Fans
Another book dealing with the Royal navy at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. My personal favorite genre of all historical books, but then perhaps that is because I am a Brit :)

Without giving anything away this is the story of 1st Lt. Hayden, who is assigned a position to keep an eye on a problematic and somewhat un-courageous Captain. Said Captain has a lot of influence with the upper class and members of the admiralty, so that puts the hero between a rock and a hard place.

This is a good story f
Sep 23, 2011 Jason rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin Yan

This book provided me a bit of insight on the French revolution and the situation in the British Royal Navy. Basically a navy lieutenant is looking for a position as a captain or lieutenant. He find himself on a little ship with Captain Hart, otherwise known as "Faint Heart" in the middle of battle. The book was slightly complicated for me to understand as I am only 12, but it was a very classical read with English writing and not the usual American fictional writing I am used to. If you are ol

May 07, 2012 Dave rated it it was ok
It takes some nerve, I think, to start a book off by describing a dark and stormy night. It may take even more to make the hero an English navy lieutenant in the Napoleonic Wars who has a French mother, a polyglot girlfriend who appears in an interminable dinner date in chapter 3 and who disappears until page 400, who has one eye blue and one eye whatever, and who gets by on 2 hours sleep a week. Russell takes the Forrester-O'Brian tradition and accentuates the pulp aspect. Highly readable, I'll ...more
28/1 - I really enjoyed this seafaring novel and look forward to its promised sequel. I felt like I was reading Master and Commander, although Dad said, after reading it too, that Master and Commander has even more detailed information about sailing the ship and the different ropes and decks, etc. I was surprised by how young he made Lieutenant Charles Hayden as I wouldn't have thought a man would've been made Master and Commander of his own ship till he was at least 30. I thought the romance be ...more
David Hull
Oct 11, 2011 David Hull rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant! While all the seafaring, nautical terms and lore might normally be off-putting to an inveterate 'land-lubber' like myself, the story, characters, action, and intrigue make these nautical references all the more attractive. Apart from being a simply great read it offers much good counsel in terms of management and leadership skills. I'm looking forward to Russell's next novel - 'A Battle Won', already on my bookshelf!
Jun 18, 2015 Franklin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Franklin by: A reviewer of similar novel
This is a great book. I cannot wait to get the other books in this series. At almost 500 pages it is longer than other books in this genre. It is the equal of books by others in the genre and better than some. I know this review is not very helpful, but if you liked Pope, O'Brian, and Stockwin, you should enjoy this author.
Jul 07, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Fast-paced, full of good tensions and difficult relationships, this sea-faring adventure is good fun.
Oct 05, 2014 Aneel rated it liked it
A different take on the French Revolutionary era nautical adventure. Lots of introspection from the lead character. Less instantly likeable than the Aubrey/Maturin books.
Jul 24, 2013 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun read but somewhat simplified. The ending felt a bit rushed. Still might read the second installment of the series.
Nov 09, 2015 Timothy rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable read! I especially liked how the author wrote in French during certain parts. Also for a book about a guy in the British Navy you spell it colours not colors!
Nov 21, 2016 Myridian rated it really liked it
This book introduces First Lieutenant Charles Hayden and the officers of the Themis, a frigate in the Napoleonic conflict with France. I picked this book up because of my great love of Russell's fantasy fiction and was not disappointed. I am not a fan of naval fiction, or the time period discussed in this book, but found myself caught up in the tension of the novel. The characters were vivid and the conflicts were believable. My one complaint is that for someone who is less of a history buff, th ...more
Jan 03, 2017 Rob rated it it was amazing
So glad that I discovered this Canadian author.
Set in my favourite historical age - late 18th and early 19th century - I thought it well written, with good descriptive passages, and a strong story line. Well worth reading. I found it hard to put this book down.
I'd probably give this 3.5 stars if I could. It is not quite a lowly 3, but it is not the "good" of a 4, if that makes sense. The book is good over all, one that I could get stuck in and follow through while reading in large chunks. The story was interesting, full of adventure, and what you'd expect from a Napoleonic-wars era seafaring novel. The main issues I had were small, mainly that the characters seemed very quick to any emotional change - perhaps it's the style or how the author understan ...more
Sep 23, 2013 Nick rated it really liked it
Under Enemy Colors follows Lt. James Hayden of his Majesty's British Navy on a tough assignment. And It does so in compelling detail. Technical in its maritime exposition, but not textbook. The reader gets a feel for the systematic hustle and bustle of making a ship move on the water. Great care is given to crafting weather and seas. Through monstrous gales or pursuits in an agonizingly still sea, Hayden overcomes all challenges and adversities with a cool head. For the bulk of the almost 500-pa ...more
Akshaj Garg
Nov 25, 2013 Akshaj Garg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Under Enemy Colors is a very well written piece by Sean Thomas Russell. It is set during the time of the French revolution when the mob is in power. It tells the story of Charles Saunders Hayden, a Lieutenant in the British Royal Navy, who has no future in his career. He is then assigned to the HMS Themis, whose crew is on the edge of a mutiny and the Captain is a petty tyrant. Hayden has to prevent the mutiny from happening while waging war against the French and with a highly uncooperative cap ...more
Chris Conrady
Dec 10, 2013 Chris Conrady rated it really liked it
I've been a real fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin nautical novels and have read 13 of the 21 book series to this point. Under Enemy Colors takes place at just about the same time in the same general context as O'Brian's series (actually just before) - so it seemed like it would provide another set of stories and another perspective on the life and trials in the British Navy in the late 1700's. Also I thought it would be interesting to compare. It answered nicely.
I was a bit skeptical at
May 09, 2013 D.w. rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
I purchased this book sometime ago, and had not gotten around to reading it. Then I won the 3rd book in the series, and so went searching for this first book.

I have done myself a disservice by not reading it earlier. It is a wonderful story, and though I find a few faults, Charles Hayden, our hero, is a taut-hand as other writers talk of their heroes in the Nautical Fiction genre.

Hayden in the hands of Russell proves his worth time and again, and even the interlude of being sent into the enemy l
Laine Cunningham
Oct 13, 2016 Laine Cunningham rated it did not like it
I gave this a good 30 pages or so before I stopped. It started out well on the ship but once it moved to land to take up the life of the main character, it slowed quite a bit. The first activites of the main chacter were interesting enough but then it settled into a parlor and his fascination with a particular woman. The dialog did me in. It was a gabby kind of dialog intended to reveal the backstories of the main character and what I assumed would be his love interest. It is in my mind a very w ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Kydd (Kydd Sea Adventures, #1)
  • The King's Coat (Alan Lewrie, #1)
  • Ramage (The Lord Ramage Novels, #1)
  • Sails on the Horizon: A Novel of the Napoleonic Wars
  • Gentleman Captain
  • By Force of Arms (Isaac Biddlecomb, #1)
  • Midshipman Bolitho (Richard Bolitho, #1-2)
  • By the Mast Divided (John Pearce, #1)
A pseudonym used by Sean Russell

Sean Russel has co-written, with Ian Dennis, a mystery series called "Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner". The first volume of the series was published by Bantam under their joint pen name, T.F. Banks.

Sean Russell was born 1952 in Toronto. At the age of three his family moved to the outskirts of the city, where they lived in a cottage at the beach of Lake Ontario. At t
More about Sean Thomas Russell...

Other Books in the Series

Adventures of Charles Hayden (4 books)
  • A Battle Won (Charles Hayden, #2)
  • Take, Burn or Destroy (Charles Hayden, #3)
  • Until the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead

Share This Book