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Under Enemy Colours (Adventures of Charles Hayden #1)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  1,576 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
1793: the thunder of cannon fire echoes across the
English Channel, chilling the stoutest hearts . . .

The opening skirmishes of the French Revolutionary War send ageing frigate HMS Themis into waters swarming with enemy ships of the line. Instructed to survey the French coastline, she's soon in the thick of the action: cutlasses slash and bayonets skewer, cannons splinter
Unknown Binding, 486 pages
Published March 6th 2008 by Putnam Publishing Group (first published August 31st 2007)
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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
Apr 15, 2013 C. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 01, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 21, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Oswego Public Library District
Fans of C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brian will enjoy this riotous maritime adventure. Faced with inept leadership, a mutinous crew, and the cannons of the French navy, the young, ripe, half-English, half-French Lieutenant Charles Hayden has much to endure.

Hayden is an attractive, competent, dark, moody naval hero. Sean Thomas Russell also adds a new flavor into the mix with his low social status and the fact that he has a French mother. From the lowest pressed man to the captain, Russell paints
Nov 16, 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
Aug 26, 2011 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Eppenstein
This is the first entry of this author's Charles Hayden series. Unfortunately for me, I didn't discover this series until the third entry and then read the fourth before getting my hands on the first and second in the series. This book obviously sets the stage for the later volumes and is by far the most engaging of these books. It is a bit of "Mutiny on the Bounty" combined with "The Caine Mutiny". We have a tyrannical cowardly captain and a noble executive officer, an unhappy and abused crew, ...more
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  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 25, 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 01, 2015 Timothy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Abigail Hartman
The jacket flap declares that this book is in the tradition of Jack Aubry and Horatio Hornblower. First of all, it's Jack AUBREY, and secondly, can you really have a novel of the Age of Sail these days without it being in the tradition of O'Brian and Forester? I'm just wondering.

Jacket flaps aside (they're not the author's fault), an enjoyable story of British naval adventures set just after the outbreak of the Reign of Terror. It's rather more of a Mutiny on the Bounty story -- EXCEPT THERE'S
Luis Suarez
Feb 28, 2017 Luis Suarez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow que buen libro, me quito el sombrero con el autor. Esta muy bien documentado respecto a la época por tener muchos detalles como el pensamiento republicano que estaba en boga en Europa y muchos aspectos de la vida marinera, donde se nota la buena investigación que realizo el autor. Los personajes esta muy bien hechos, ya que llegas a querer a los que se lo merecen y a odiar a los que no, especialmente el oficial de derrota Barth, el guardiamarina Wickman y el protagonista de esta historia Hay ...more
May 26, 2017 Kivrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He's no Jack Aubrey, but Charles Hayden is a pretty good hero. Hayden is half French and half English but he's chosen to fight on the English side in the war in 1793. His heritage is not helping his advancement in the King's Navy, but he has hope for the future until he's assigned aboard the HMS Themis and discovers the Captain is not only a tyrant but a coward as well. Caught between a mutinous crew and a worthless captain, he struggles with questions of honor and loyalty.

The naval battles are
May 28, 2017 Alex rated it it was amazing
Never judge a book by its covers they say; I admit I was probably guilty of this. I picked this book up in a second hand bookshop several years ago as a second-class alternative for the series I was looking for and it's languished on my shelves ever since under the same misguided impression. But how wrong I was!
The writing is fairly mature, quick paced and gripping. The characters are generally pretty believable, although I'm not totally convinced by Wickham who seems.a bit too much of a goody-g
Michael Kelley
Jun 07, 2017 Michael Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as Dewey Lamdin
Julia DeBarrioz
Mar 16, 2017 Julia DeBarrioz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: age-of-sail
Excellent age of sail read.

Russell's seamanship is excellent and Captain Hayden is an interesting hero: an officer in the Royal Navy, but also, half French, and conflicted by his duties to bring war to the enemy. However when he's assigned to a Captain who is notoriously shy (a coward) and a ship on the brink of mutiny, making war with the French becomes the least of his worries. I was very satisfied with the way the story fell into place, and the author also provides an interesting look inside
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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 (Charles Hayden, #3)
  • Until the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead

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