AOS Book Reviews


This section contains reviews of AOS books by David Hayes and members of the forum (Modern Era Reviews)

Review: A Pirate's Tale: The Sea Fox by Gary Robert Muschla

A Pirate's Tale: The Sea FoxAccused of a papist plot in Reastoration England Jon Nostrum, son of a knight, wakes to find himself as a seaman aboard a ship owned by Edmund Stanton a ruthless Jamaican businessman who has coerced Kath Ellis.

To escape Stanton the crew mutiny and Jon finds he now has a new career as a pirate captain with a powerful enemy bent on revenge. But how will the intervention of Sir Henry Morgan, former buccaneer and now Governor of Jamaia, affect things. 

At it's heart this is a fairly standard will the girl run off with the pirate plot but it is very well written with a storyline that is well paced with rounded characters that are far more believable than some of the Pirates of the Carribbean caricatures. I enjoyed reading it and would purchase a sequel if one were written.


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Review: The Glorious First by M. Howard Morgan

The Glorious FirstThe Glorious First is the second book in M. Howard Morgan's series about Royal Marine officer Jack Vizzard.

As war with France breaks out the government needs information and Vizzard finds himself in the murky world of espionage. Captured in enemy territory he must find a way to escape. Back iin England, for his valuable work, he is assigned to a ship in Lord Howe's fleet which plays a pivotal role in the first major battle of the war known as the Glorious First of June.

The book really has two distinct parts, the first of which is somewhat slower, but it is well written and the storyline flows well. The book picks up as the battle approaches and the action sequences are graphically written.

It is good to see a Royal Marine character taking centre stage and I look forward to further instalments of Vizzard's adventures. Recommended.

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Review: Trident by Michael Aye

TridentThis new title in Michael Aye's Fighting Anthony's series covers new ground as the author, for part of the story, moves the setting away from the Caribbean. With knowledge of an attempt by American privateers and the French to intercept the vital East India trade a squadron is despatched to the waters off Madagascar, however after his Admiral is wounded, as Flag Captain, Gabe finds himself in command and facing a superior force.

Throughout this series the author has built up quite a large cast of characters but as usual we are reintroduced to them without slowing down the pace of the story. There are no detailed descriptions of ship handling but several action sequences.

The 'Fighting Anthony's is set during the American struggle for independence but does not seek to recount specific historical events. This is another good yarn with a fresh feel and 'Trident' as well as the series as a whole is recommended.

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Review: The Massacre of Innocents by Alan Lawrence

The Massacre of InnocentsThe Massacre of Innocents is the first book in a proposed new series set during the period when the Royal navy was undergoing it's rapid reduction after the Napoleonic Wars. Many authors concentrate on the anti-slavery patrols but Lawrence, in a refreshing change, has chosen the Greek struggle for independence from Turkey.

The European nations were not officially engaged in the early stages of this conflict so HMS Surprise has to act as a Letter of Marque aiding the Greek navy in it's attempts to defend it's islands from the much more powerful Turks. Ancient Greece was of course made up of individual city states, often at war, and it seems as if not much had changed by this time with little cooperation between the fleets of different islands or their civilian populations. Surprise is the only frigate facing a powerful enemy so running rather than fighting is often the only available option, but eventually some degree of cooperation between all involved leads to a decisive battle.

Lawrence's narrative had a group of well developed characters which, as you might suspect from the series title 'The Continuing Voyages of HMS Surprise', are reminiscent of O'Brian's work.

I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more. Recommended.

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Review: Blackwell's Paradise by V. E. Ulett

Blackwell's ParadiseThe Age of Sail naval fiction market is becoming a crowded one so it is hard for authors to come up with something new and unique that grabs the readers attention. V. E. Ulett achieves that in Blackwell's Paradise. Our hero finds himself in a leaking ship only fit for the breakers yard. That is unlikely to impress the Admiral he is carrying as a passenger and when the ship is wrecked you might suspect that would be the end of his career.

He is however needed for a mission to the pacific so he soon finds himself with a new command and at sea with permission to take his wife with him. Things do not go well for Blackwell who finds himself ashore and a prisoner in unusual circumstances. This is the main focus of the story as the narrative explores the interactions of Europeans and the Pacific natives through an interesting plot line that was unexpected and which I enjoyed. 

This was an interesting and enjoyable read and particularly if you are looking for something with a different twist recommended.

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Review: The Battle of All the Ages by J. D. Davies

The Battle of All the AgesI always look forward to a new instalment in the 'Journals of Matthew Quinton' by historian J. D. Davies as I always learn something new about the navies and history of the period. The latest instalment, The Battle of All the Ages, did not disappoint.

The book gets off to an action filled start with Matthew and his crew in the thick of the fighting during the The Four Days' Battle of 1666, a drawn out and fierce action of the Anglo-Dutch wars and a defeat for the English fleet. The Captain's of the typical 'Napoleonic' novel tend to be a Nelson character from more humble beginnings yet in this earlier era Quinton is a courtier and heir to an Earldom. Even so Davies has created a very believable and likeable character who you can empathise with. 

As I have said before the navies of the 1660's were very different so it is not surprising that after his return from the battle at the whim of the King Matthew finds himself with a senior rank in an early incarnation of the Royal marines and on his way to Plymouth to root out the source of the false intelligence that caused the division of the English fleet before the battle and many lives.

After the conclusion of this mission Matthew returns to his ship to find that in an astonishing feat by the standards of the time has taken place and the shattered fleet has been repaired in just seven weeks. This enables the book to finish as it started with a climactic battle, in this case the one known as the St. James's Day fight.

As always Davies uses his historical accuracy to bring to life the events of these two great battles and the political intrigue of the period when allegiances and enmities were not as clear cut as in later periods.

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