Erik's Reviews > The Privateer's Revenge

The Privateer's Revenge by Julian Stockwin
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's review
Oct 17, 08

really liked it

I don’t buy many hardbacks when they’re released. Instead, I typically put it on hold first through my neighborhood public library or – failing that – wait until it comes out in paperback a year or so later. However, Julian Stockwin’s Napoleonic-era British naval series about rising star Thomas Kydd is one that I pre-order immediately through Amazon the moment I hear it will be out in the next new release season. Which, I proudly admit, is exactly what I did with this, the ninth book in the series, way back in the summer when I found out it was to roll off the presses this October. And, yes, it is worth paying for it in hardback.

After a long string of successes in both his personal and professional sea-faring lives for many books, The Privateer’s Revenge begins where the last book, The Admiral’s Daughter, left off: Having just taken the hand of a woman of lesser social rank by turning away the titular daughter of a high-ranking naval admiral, Kydd loses his new bride in a freak accident. And it is this nadir in his life that opens this latest book as our hero lies sullen in the deepest and most morose of glooms.

Just when you think that the situation cannot possibly get worse, it does. First Kydd falls into a trap laid by an unknown enemy – and trust me, the suspected perp is merely a classic red herring – which causes him to lose not just his Letter of Marque, but his standing as an acting naval commander. Then when he tries his hand at earning a prize or two as a privateer, he is fired after bringing in the slimmest of pickings. Meanwhile, his friend, confidant, and ship’s clerk (and once first lieutenant, even) Nicholas Renzi goes off in search of a new job, only to be hired by Commodore d’Auvergne to aide in the abduction of the Tyrant – alias Napoleon – by French loyalists.

Naval fiction set in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth is clearly having a run in recent times – as evidenced by many bookstores devoting an entire section to this growing and increasingly popular literary sub-genre. But Stockwin is clearly a cut above the rest. Truly is he the torch-bearer of the late Patrick O’Brian and, before him, the indomitable C. S. Forester.

Oh, and I honestly don’t know what is up with this book’s icon on Facebook’s Virtual Bookshelf with its cover-title reading Treachery. Perhaps this is the UK version? Odd – and just a bit annoying -- when we change book titles here in the U.S. with a foreign book. Particularly when it is already written in English.

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