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Midshipman Bolitho (Richard Bolitho #1-2 omnibus)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  1,518 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
The year is 1772, and Richard Bolitho is a sixteen-year-old midshipman about to undergo a severe initiation into the game of seamanship. The book follows young Bolitho's adventures as he intercepts and destroys a band of vicious pirates and then is swept away on a dangerous mission through the treacherous stamping ground of smugglers, wreckers, and murderers.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by McBooks Press (first published 1975)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,227)
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Apr 17, 2016 Nente rated it did not like it
Sloppy, clumsy, incompetent writing.
The characters have no depth, their actions are illogical, their feelings have to be explained in plain words because there is no skill to suggest anything, and even the word choice is frequently very unfortunate.
Nor is the plot anything special to make up for the prose quality. The hero gets pushed around - there are some failures - the mission only progresses because he takes it on himself to disobey orders and choose a better course of action - then finally
Jul 24, 2009 Karen rated it it was amazing
The Bolitho novels are all good reads, nothing too taxing, but the author has the knack of adding details from the British navy of the Napoleonic age without too much pain. All the crowding of ships, men press ganged into service unwillingly to be molded or beaten into a deadly crew, the rotten food, dangerous weather conditions, the dangers or war, all are included. Occasionally, there's some romance, but this always takes backseat to the struggle to defeat Napoleon.
the first 24 books concern t
Dec 15, 2011 Ensiform rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The escapades of a lowly midshipman of 16 years who distinguishes himself (or would if a lieutenant didn’t hog all his glory) aboard the Gorgon against some slaver corsairs. I’d never heard of this book or author before, but it turns out to be a series of some 20-odd novels. This one was very much an episodic novel, since it ends with TV-serial style hints of the villain’s return and indicates that Bolitho’s career has only just begun. As its own book, therefore, it’s a little unsatisfying. It’s ...more
Apr 05, 2010 theduckthief rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who love naval historical fiction
"On this particular day in mid-October 1772, Richard Bolitho sat wedged in a corner of one of the long rooms half listening to the babble of voices around him, the clatter of plates and tankards and the hiss of rain against the small windows. The air was heavy with mixed aromas. Food and ale, tobacco and tar, and each time the doors opened to a chorus of curses and complaints the keener tang of salt from the waiting ships."

The year is 1772 and Richard Bolitho is a young midshipman newly assigned
May 29, 2015 Farseer rated it it was amazing
This series is more in the style of C. S. Forester's Hornblower than in the style of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin. Kent is not a fancy writer, but he writes in a straightforward and competent manner and he knows his 18th century British Navy stuff. The reader soon is immersed in the atmosphere of the ship, accompanying 16-year-old Richard Bolitho as he fulfills his midshipman duties. The stories are part description of life aboard and part adventure/war plot.

I have seen other reviewers of th
Aug 05, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing
The stories about Richard Bolitho by Alexander Kent helped inspire me to join the Royal Navy thirty years ago. They are a great set of naval historical novels which, in my humble opinion, are superior to the books about Hornblower by C.S.Forester because the character of Bolitho is more believable. They are a gripping read and hard to put down.
Aug 14, 2013 J E rated it it was ok
Could have been an interesting historical novel, but the characters are flat and unengaging. Bolitho is brave, honest, humble, hardworking, skillful, smart, and so on. No flaws. Never makes a mistake. I prefer to read about characters with at least a few flaws so they have to struggle and maybe learn something.
Jul 04, 2007 Writerlibrarian rated it really liked it
First book in the Bolitho age of sail series. I read this one in French. The translation is quite good much better than the O'Brian books (which I stopped reading in French after 100 pages in the first book). The age of sail era has a lot of good novels to offer readers. Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Mathurin series; C.S. Forester's Hornblower series; Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's series. Alexander Kent's Bolitho series has some competition indeed. It would be unfair to Kent's series to compare it to O ...more
Aug 28, 2015 Gibs rated it liked it
Shelves: nautical-fiction
A decent, quick read. The characters are rather one-dimensional, the story arch somewhat simplistic and the writing and dialogue a bit wooden. Kent has more raw "action" than O'Brian, which keeps the pace up. But O'Brian is the better writer in terms of depth and character development. Still, Kent's work is entertaining, and has enough twists and turns to hold the readers interests. Having read no other Alexander Kent novels, my hope is that the writers skills improved with later novels.
Roger Ball
Nov 04, 2013 Roger Ball rated it it was amazing
Though naval adventure series such as this was ever something I sought after, I have always enjoyed historical fiction. So when someone happened to leave behind this first book of the series in an airplane seat many years ago, I thought "what the heck, I' m between books and need something", so gave it a try. 30 books in this series later.......I finished them all. :-)
One of the things I found the most interesting was the way the author gave very accurate descriptions of how sailing life really
Oct 24, 2015 Jeffrey rated it liked it
After reading the first installment of Alexander Kent's Bolitho series, I would describe it as very good fan fiction of Horatio Hornblower. I enjoyed it a lot, because it is a very good effort at capturing some of the great world of the fighting sailor literature so perfectly epitomized by Hornblower. Kent's work is highly engaging well conceived.
I will read more Bolitho novels.
Feb 21, 2015 Rob rated it it was amazing
You will get hooked on Richard Bolitho.
Kent was curator of the British navel museum....he knows his sailing, life and traditions by those in the navy during those years.
excellent cannot put these books down.
GJ Ellis
Successor to CS Forester's giant stories of the sea. The Bolitho series is what taught me about sailing, military application and just good adventure fun.
Glen Raffel
Jan 07, 2015 Glen Raffel rated it did not like it
While the descriptions of naval life are well done, the plots are confusingly laid out. Bolitho himself has virtually no personality and does not really hold my interest.
Christopher Squire
I registered a book at!
Meljean Brook
Sep 05, 2009 Meljean Brook rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research
I've only read the first installment so far in this edition. Bolitho's narration felt very disconnected from the story. He felt distant from the events. I would say that it was part of the characterization, of Bolitho trying to maintain some kind of rigid control over himself, except that later Bolitho stories are more emotionally engaged. So I'm guessing that the writing just got better as Kent went along.

It's sometimes difficult to keep interested when the narrator is so bland, but the settin
May 22, 2008 George rated it really liked it
First in the set in the late 18th century, 1772, British naval series tracing the career of Richard Bolitho. Bolitho is 16 years old, been in the navy, a family tradition, for four years and is assigned to a 72 gun ship of the line assigned to duty off the coast of West Africa to deal with pirates.

Novel is a quick easy read and is fairly short, less than 175 pages, giving you views of life in the British navy, routines onboard a ship, as well as the excitement of battle.
Hermann Gucinski
Nov 29, 2009 Hermann Gucinski rated it liked it
Reading historical fiction of another era allows you to fantasize about life back then without the apparent complications of todays situation, which allows no historical perspective. You can enjoy of for the historical detail, the thrilling action, the existence of heroes that have little ambiguity. Alexander Kent's "Bolitho Novels" are of that genre, and can match most of the others of the days of the fighting ships under sail. The author leaves you hanging at the end of each chapter, and you j ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it
I was wanting to read a great series of books concerning serving aboard naval ships during the Napoleonic age and this series fits the bill perfectly. Midshipman Bolitho is the first in a series of books much like Horatio Hornblower series. I enjoyed this first book and found the story light yet greatly entertaining. Mister Bolitho is a man who tries to do the right thing by his men no matter what and shows great character in some difficult circumstances. All in all I look forward to reading mo ...more
Aug 11, 2016 Terry rated it really liked it
Another fine historical tale of 18th century English naval action.
Shane Wilson
Jul 27, 2015 Shane Wilson rated it really liked it
Great series for anyone who loved Hornblower.
Apr 13, 2016 Omcn rated it liked it
As sea stories go… this was exciting, but can't match the brilliance of O'Brian 's works.
J.W. Murison
Aug 09, 2016 J.W. Murison rated it it was amazing
The beginning of a great adventure that follows Bolitho through a life time at sea. You can feel the salt spray stinging your skin, and hear the wind whistle through the rigging. If you like old sailing ships, cannon fire and bold men with steel in their hearts and a cutlass in their hands, then this is the series for you. One of the authors that became an inspiration in my life, and made me realise that I too wanted to write. J W Murison
Tama Wise
Jun 08, 2007 Tama Wise rated it really liked it
Having never read anything from the naval sea stories type genre, this was a little of an eye opener. I pretty much wrote the whole genre off as a rather boring prospect, but this one was a great introduction. Not too long, it has all the zip and pace of an action film, set aboard one of his Magesty's finest ships. Not just a history lesson on setting, it was also rich in its atmosphere on how naval ships of the period ran and operated.
Apr 01, 2011 Elin rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
I read this one after reading several of the 'later' books in the series. I enjoyed it but noticed that it has a different tone to the other novels. It has a much more 'young adult' flavour and I wondered if Kent was aiming for a more youtful market with it. As such it's a good introduction to Age of Sail stories but to a reader used to Forester or O'Brien I feel it might be a bit of a disappointment.
Lee Scoresby
Jun 18, 2012 Lee Scoresby rated it liked it
I tired of this series quickly, although I kept reading the damned books out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Hornblower and Kydd are far better, and Aubrey/Maturin is better still.

Bolitho is more like Hornblower than the others, but with almost no personality. The way his sailors worship him is not believable. There is little humour or life in this series.
Aug 19, 2012 Jerry rated it really liked it

This series is the literary equivalent of comfort food. Simple, full of action, well written. The main character, Richard Bolitho, is a case study in great leadership. A great choice for young people (though undoubtedly more appealing to boys) to learn what it means to be trustworthy, earn respect and be devoted to the welfare of those under one's command.
Feb 05, 2009 Sqyire21 rated it really liked it
I picked this up off a free shelf in Iraq. It took me just over 24 hours to read the whole thing. Very well written, and a very easy read.

Although I didn't enjoy it as much as my Julian Stockwin series, the concept is very much the same, and just a little easier to read.

Recommend for anyone interested in Historic Naval Fiction.
Aug 22, 2014 Pete rated it really liked it
not quite as enjoyable as Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Matirin series, but still a good read
Mar 15, 2011 Eric rated it it was amazing
Excellent sea adventure about a young man entering into the life his father shared. A great first book to a very interesting story. Richard Bolitho shows what it feels like to be a member of the British Navy. He shares his fears, wonders and anxiety about what it takes to be an officer.
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Other Books in the Series

Richard Bolitho (1 - 10 of 30 books)
  • Richard Bolitho — Midshipman (Richard Bolitho, #1)
  • Midshipman Bolitho and the Avenger (Richard Bolitho, #2)
  • Band of Brothers (Richard Bolitho, #3)
  • Stand into Danger (Richard Bolitho, #4)
  • In Gallant Company (Richard Bolitho, #5)
  • Sloop of War (Richard Bolitho, #6)
  • To Glory We Steer (Richard Bolitho, #7)
  • Command a King's Ship (Richard Bolitho, #8)
  • Passage to Mutiny (Richard Bolitho, #9)
  • With All Despatch (Richard Bolitho, #10)

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