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Under Enemy Colors (Adventures of Charles Hayden #1)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  973 ratings  ·  103 reviews
A sweeping novel of maritime mutiny set against the backdrop of the French Revolution that evokes such masters as Patrick O'Brian and Bernard Cornwell. At the time of the French Revolution, one of Britain's most skillful naval officers, Charles Saunders Hayden, is a young lieutenant, the son of an English father and a French mother. His abilities and his loyalty to the kin ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Putnam Adult (first published August 31st 2007)
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Secrets of the Realm by Bev StoutMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonTwenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Nautical Tales
38th out of 351 books — 216 voters
Taking Chances by Christina PaulMaster and Commander by Patrick O'BrianLiberty or Death by David        CookThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasMr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester
Napoleonic War fiction
43rd out of 84 books — 98 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
C. Owen
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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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
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

Fast-paced, full of good tensions and difficult relationships, this sea-faring adventure is good fun.
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
I was a childhood fan of Forester's books on Hornblower and some 30 years later discovered Patrick O'Brian's series of books on Captain Aubrey, marveling at the writing. Before this vacation a chance recommendation led me to buy the three books written by S. Thomas Russell, this title being the first one to read.

I was utterly amazed at the depth of nautical knowledge as well as the facility with which the author transported the reader to the deck of a ship. The characters simply come alive, as i
David Hull
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!
Laine Cunningham
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
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
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
Chris Conrady
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
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
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
Dec 12, 2011 AndrewP rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
I feel like I have to start this review with a huge caveat: It turns out naval novels set during the Napoleonic Wars just aren't really my thing. So if they are your thing, you should check out some of the other glowing reviews of this novel. It was competently written, full of action and sea battles and jargon, and had a somewhat interesting main character and conflict (and the audiobook narrator was quite good). It just didn't get me excited about the genre or make me want to read more in the ...more
Janith Pathirage
A very entertaining book with lot of gun fighting, it's full of conspiracies and valor and inspiring from beginning to end. I have often come across very dull novels of this genre but Under Enemy Colors was an exception. It was bit like Jack London's "Sea Wolf". Cant wait to read the remaining books of this series to see what happens to Charles Hayden
Colleen O'grady
I am reading this magnificent story the second time around. It was a Christmas gift from my grandson. Russell certainly knows the shipping language of the days of the French war with the British. When such a book is written with such authority, it makes for a good read and I am delighted to have it on my shelf. It also gives me food for thought, for with all the wars and rumours of wars since that time, how many men, or women for that matter, have been torn in two because one parent is from one ...more
Tom Stacey
It's well written and a good story but I disliked the twee Britishness. For example, naval officers having a charming conversation in the middle of a naval battle. It's just unrealistic and perhaps based on a stereotypical idea of Napoleonic-era British armed forces being full of 'spiffing chaps.' Needs more grit.
Tim Corke
A true adventure story and a great series in the making.

Lt. Hayden's exploits on board Themis started with a murky and secret twist that deepened with every passing day. The morale and competence of the crew were constantly awry and hostile and every order made seemingly under question. Coupled with a strange attitude and behaviour of Captain Hart, Lt. Hayden's life on board became very difficult.

With the help and support of several key sailors including the young Lord Wickham, Hayden's percept
What did I learn from this book?? Sailing is a lot more involved than it appears in the movies! This book takes place soon after the French Revolution--one of those numerous times when England and France were at war. It follows the story of a English Navy Lt. who is half English and half French. There is tons of action and I really liked the main character. I read one of the Horatio Hornblower books (--after having seen the mini-series that A&E did...). I loved the mini-series but wasn't thr ...more
This is an excellent start to what looks to be a great and refreshing new series. Grittier than Forester, Pope, or Kent and far more readable and stimulating than O'Brien (sorry to any POB fans out there), this book was packed with battle, adventure, and intrigue. One thing that I especially liked about it was that the common seamen were FINALLY portrayed as sentient beings, instead of the mindless, will-less automatons of other series. The protagonist was very human, but still admirable and ver ...more
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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
  • Until the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead
A Battle Won (Charles Hayden, #2) Take, Burn or Destroy Until the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead Zu feindlichen Ufern: Roman (German Edition) Naval Aviation 1911-1986

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