Thursday, March 17, 2011

11.06 Richard Bolitho, Midshipman by Alexander Kent

Richard Bolitho, Midshipman (1975) by Alexander Kent

I'm in the midst of prepping to play in a play-by-post roleplaying game with some friends. The game is called Beat to Quarters and its setting is in the British Navy in the late 18th century. I really know very little about the era or milieu so I thought I should check out a couple of books. The ones I am familiar with by reputation, of course, are the Master and Commander series by O'Brien and the Horatio Hornblower books. I wanted to look outside these novels I guess because they are being fairly actively read and reviewed by my circle of friends.

This turns out to be the second book in the series about Bolithio. So although he is still a young and inexperienced midshipman he has one voyage under his belt and isn't entirely green. The story begins briskly with Bolithio making friends with another midshipman, Martyn Dancer, at an inn in Portsmouth. Turns out that they are shipmates because a lieutenant from their ship the Gorgon bursts in and orders them aboard. The Gorgon sails to West Africa where they encounter an empty Merchantman, the City of Athens. The captain deduces that pirates have pillaged the ship and reveals that he is on a mission to to investigate the disappearance of ships in the region. I won't reveal more but there is action aplenty throughout the book with sea battles, night raids and several other daring escapades.

I was actually quite taken with this novel. The characters are well drawn and the pace quite relentless. Very enjoyable.

No comments: