Uncommon Valour is an omnibus of two books about a family of colonial naval officers and merchant shippers and a Royal Navy captain and how their lives intertwine during the conflicts of the American struggle for independence. As it is two volumes I shall review each seperately below.
The Frigate Captain
This book follows the life of John Sinclair a senior and well respected captain in the Royal Navy who, with the frigate Sapphire, has been sent to New York, and the lives of the Mason family, part of which in the form of Commander William Mason is heading to England with a captured French Spy. Their ships meet in the North Atlantic and thier lives become inextricably linked with John destined to fall in love with William’s sister.
It is a story of Naval officers, their wives, a family of colonial merchant shippers, espionage and romance. There are good well rounded characters including some strong female ones. It must be said that a large proportion is land based but that did not detract from a well written plot that came together well as the focus switched between the diary entries of various characters.
The style of writing the plot as narrated diary entries was different from the norm but I enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next volume which I suspect from the postscript will spend a bit more time at sea. There are a few minor typos that need editing out but these did not detract.
As American and French raiders continue to take English ships the Admiralty comes up with a new concept to deal with them, a flying squadron of frigates. Sinclair is given command of the Halifax squadron and as he becomes more involved with the Mason family William and some of his brothers serve under him.
There is more naval action in this volume as they deal with the enemy ships but the main emphasis continues to be the day to day lives of the family and their friends.
There are not many series that deal so comprehensively with the lives of all the principal characters family and friends in parallel with their careers which makes this book an interesting read in itself. There are a lot of characters in the books, all of which seem well rounded and I would read more if it were available. Recommended