Richard Spilman’s Hell Around the Horn is set at the turn of the twentieth century in one of the last windjammers to make the perilous passage about Cape Horn. It follows the progress of the Lady Rebecca as she takes on cargo and crew at Tiger Bay, before setting out for her eventual destination in far away Chile. The subsequent story is one of peril and hardship, brought about by the atrocious weather conditions and a fair degree of human mischief, and is told through the eyes of all on board, be they fresh or seasoned hands, young “brassbounders,” senior officers, or even the captain’s family. It is a gritty tale: no blue wave lapped sandy beaches here, just an excellent recreation of what is takes to round the Horn under sail, along with a better understanding of those who chose to do so. This is true historical fiction: a genuine “feel” for the time is portrayed, with interesting nuggets of information about the social conditions and descriptions of the contemporary sailing methods and gear.
In fact that is where the magic lies; Spilman’s love and knowledge of the subject is obvious, with facts and technical detail blending well into the story. In much historical fiction the “tell all you know” trap is common and snares many writers, allowing good storylines to be buried beneath a mass of intricate and unnecessary detail. In Hell Around the Horn this is not the case: at no time is the reader bombarded with ostentatious data or obscure jargon. Instead they are sensibly informed, and gently led through a complex world by a competent and knowledgeable hand. Being entertained, rather than involuntarily educated is a far more pleasant experience, and the whole process is rather akin to sailing with a trusted sea daddy.
Read More Alaric Bond Review: Hell Around the Horn by Rick Spilman – Historic Naval Fiction.
Author Alaric Bond’s latest novel in the Fighting Sail series, The Patriot’s Fate, is now available in ebook formats worldwide and will be released in paperback shortly.
In his new novel, The Patriot’s Fate, Alaric Bond joins the ranks of well-known Age of Sail authors C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brien in his skillful combining of historical fact with compelling fiction to produce another gripping novel in his Fighting Sail series.
It is 1798 and Ireland rises up against years of repression and injustice. Rebels, supported by a mighty French invasion fleet, prepare to claim their land but find themselves countered by a powerful British battle squadron. Two friends and former allies, separated by chance and circumstance, witness developments from opposing sides while storms, political intrigue and personal dynamics abound. In The Patriot’s Fate Bond maintains a relentless pace that climaxes in thrilling naval action and noble sacrifice.
Read More The Patriot’s Fate (PB/K) – Historic Naval Fiction.
A new hardcover book by Stephen Taylor, Commander: The Life and Exploits of Britain’s Greatest Frigate Captain will be released in the UK on 6 September 2012 and in the US on 15 October 2012.
Edward Pellew, captain of the legendary Indefatigable, was quite simply the greatest frigate captain in the age of sail. An incomparable seaman, ferociously combative yet chivalrous, a master of the quarterdeck and an athlete of the tops, he was as quick to welcome a gallant foe into his cabin as to dive to the rescue of a man overboard. He is the likely model for the heroic but all-too-human Jack Aubrey in Patrick O’Brian’s novels.
Pellew was orphaned at eight, but fought his way from the very bottom of the Navy to fleet command and a viscountcy. Victories and eye-catching feats won him a public following. Yet as an outsider with a gift for antagonizing his better-born peers, he made powerful enemies. Redemption came with his last command, when he set off to do battle with the Barbary States and free thousands of European slaves. Contemporary opinion held this to be an impossible mission, and Pellew himself, in leading from the front in the style of his direct contemporary Nelson, did not expect to survive.
Read More Commander (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction.
Author Rick Spilman has a new novel which is now available worldwide for Kindle, Hell Around the Horn. It will also be released in print format soon.
In 1905, a young ship’s captain and his family set sail on the windjammer, Lady Rebecca, from Cardiff, Wales with a cargo of coal bound for Chile, by way of Cape Horn. Before they reach the Southern Ocean, the cargo catches fire, the mate threatens mutiny and one of the crew may be going mad. The greatest challenge, however, will prove to be surviving the vicious westerly winds and mountainous seas of the worst Cape Horn winter in memory. Told from the perspective of the Captain, his wife, a first year apprentice and an American sailor before the mast, Hell Around the Horn is a story of survival and the human spirit in the last days of the great age of sail.
via Hell Around the Horn (K) – Historic Naval Fiction.
I have now read a couple of Mr Freeman’s works which have used the style of comparing different aspects of something and deciding which was the most important to history or ‘Greatest’. In this book, Britain’s Greatest Naval Battle, the author compares two battles from different periods of the Age of Sail, The Armada and Trafalgar, with the more modern Battle of Jutland, to decide which was the most important to Britain.
Freeman first sets out a number of criteria which he will use to reach his decision and then analyses each Battle in turn against these, finally reaching a decision as to which is the greatest. I will not spoil the book by revealing this conclusion.
Whether you agree with the outcome or not, the book will certainly make you think about these battles from a different perspective. For scholarly works they are shorter than usual, but they are priced appropriately for this and it made them an easier read than some. I enjoyed comparing such disparate actions and if you just want to spend a few hours on non-fiction rather than undertake some detailed in depth research this is certainly one to consider.
via Review: Britain’s Greatest Naval Battle by Richard Freeman – Historic Naval Fiction.
Author Jenny Barden has a new novel which is now available for pre-order in the UK, Mistress of the Sea, in Hardcover. It will be released on 30 August 2012 and will be available in the US in Kindle format on the same day.
An epic, romantic swashbuckling Elizabethan adventure set at the time of Drake, pirates and privateers
Plymouth 1570; Ellyn Cooksley fears for her elderly father’s health when he declares his intention to sail with Drake on an expedition he has been backing. Already yearning for escape from the loveless marriage planned for her, Ellyn boards the expedition ship as a stowaway.
Also aboard the Swan is Will Doonan, Ellyn’s charming but socially inferior neighbour. Will has courted Ellyn playfully without any real hope of winning her, but when she is discovered aboard ship, dressed in the garb of a cabin boy, he is furious.
Read More Mistress of the Sea (HC/K) – Historic Naval Fiction.
I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of At Drake’s Command: The Adventures of Peregrine James During the Second Circumnavigation of the World, by David Wesley Hill, which tells the story of a young cook who joins an expedition under Francis Drake.
The first third of the book is land based and does an excellent job of setting up the principal character, Peregrine James. The narrative quickly grabbed my attention and after that was hard to put down.
It then follows the fleet as it heads for, and passes down the coast of, Africa, interacting with the Moors of Barbary. England at the time was seeking to get a foothold in overseas trade which at the time had been granted by the Pope to Spain and Portugal and which they fiercely defended. Attitudes at the time were sharply focused and the views and language of the time are reflected in the text.
Read More Review: At Drake’s Command by David Wesley Hill – Historic Naval Fiction.