AOS Book Reviews


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

Review: Commodore Levy by Irving Litvag

Commodore LevyOn the European side of the Atlantic Uriah Phillips Levy is not a name that springs to mind when thinking of famous American naval officers, in deed I had never heard of him. That is a deficiency I have now rectified by reading Commodore Levy: A Novel of Early America in the Age of Sail, a fictionalised biography of his life.

Brought up in the Jewish faith Levy went to sea as a cabin boy aged ten and quickly rose to be an officer. A patriot he joined the Navy during the War of 1812 as a Master on the Argus until he was captured. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1817 which saw the start of his problems. As a 'tarpaulin' officer and a Jew many officers took it upon themselves to try and end his career, a thread that was to continue as he rose through the ranks. He fought many court martial's but eventually achieved an appointment commanding the Mediterranean squadron.

As a respected member of the New York Jewish community he also invested in property amassing a personal fortune and becoming a noted philanthropist.

At over 600 pages this is a large book for a novel but I found it very engaging and hard to put down. The standard is such that it could easily be used as a scholarly work for those interested in Levy's life and career and his story was so interesting that the book is highly recommended reading.

Read more ...

Review: The Threat in the East by Roger Burnage

The Threat in the EastThe Threat in the East, the third book in the 'The Merriman Chronicles', sees Merriman and his ship Lord Stevenage heading for Bombay and India where local potentates are building ships to threaten British interests and possibly link up with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt.

The novel spends less time ashore than previous offerings as Merriman takes the ships of the Honorable East India Company's Marine under his command and sets out on a series of raids to destroy the enemies forces.

The now familiar mix of naval action and espionage is as always brought together in a fast paced well written  narrative.

This book and the series as a whole is recommended.

Read more ...

Review: Merriman and the French Invasion by Roger Burnage

Merriman and the French InvasionWhen I reviewed the first book in 'The Merriman Chronicles', A Certain Threat, I said "if subsequent books keep up this standard it will be a good one." I was not disappointed. The second book, Merriman and the French Invasion, as the title implies is about an attempted invasion, in this case of Ireland. There is a mixture of shipboard and shore action with a continuation of the espionage sub plot introduced in the first book. To this is added some personal treachery.

Merriman and his crew find themselves virtually unsupported as they defend the coast if Ireland against the plans of an arch enemy they have fought previously.

The mixture of familiar & new characters were well rounded as before in another well paced narrative. Although much of the action takes place ashore the book fits the genre well and I look forward to seeing what future adventures will reveal.


Read more ...

Review: Mean Sun by Gerry Garibaldi

Mean SunMean Sun is the first book in a new series by Gerry Garibaldi that follows the adventures of Daniel Wren. After he is caught by the press and taken aboard a navy vessel destined for a voyage to the far east he soon finds himself under the watchful eye of the master who takes an interest in his advancement. 

The book has a well written and fast paced plot which was hard to put down. The depictions of life at sea and the action were well written and I will certainly look out for the sequel. On a slight negative note the book could do with some editing. There are some obvious errors such as the name of the principal vessel changing at one stage which should have been picked up and officianados of the genre will also spot some more technical instances however on balance they did not affect my enjoyment of the story. 


Read more ...

Review: Song of the Mokihana by T. D. Matzenik

Song of the MokihanaSong of the Mokihana is one of those interesting books that, whilst about sailing ships, are set in a different time period to the majority. In this case 1914. Set in the Pacific islands of French Polynesia the book is a romantic thriller that explores the tensions in an area which whilst remote from the conflict of the Great War is affected by it.

The schooner Mokihana is captained by Henry Keenan, who is half american half Polynesian, with an american mate and a native crew. It visits the French islands where if finds some shipwrecked germans, including Matildhe Kolbe who also has some Polynesian ancestry. In the dying days of both the age of sail and the war the author has weaved an intricate and gripping plot in which all the characters seem to have their own conflicting agendas from their ancestral and national loyalties.

For those not familiiar with the Islands, Matzenik's narrative gives you a real feeling for them at this time icluding the social attitudes and mores that existed between the natives, half castes and the various European powers. The author's descriptions of life aboard the Mokihana will be enjoyed by age of sail enthusiasts but it will also appeal to fans of many genres or those who just enjoy a thoroughly good read.


Read more ...

Review: Remember the Raisin by Michael Aye

Remember the RaisinIn his new book Remember the Raisin, the first of a new trilogy about the War of 1812, Michael Aye explores the fighting in the North West. The book is mainly land based however it includes a good description of Commodore Perry's defeat of the British on the Great Lakes.

Aye developed an interesting principal character, Jonah Lee, who as the 'President's man' is tasked with ensuring the army under General William Harrison takes the fight to the British. He is present at all the major actions of the campaign. As a naval literature fan I have read a few books about the Great Lakes campaign, however Remember the Raisin puts it within the wider conflict which made it an interesting and informative read.

The book appeared to be well researched and the plot flowed well as it linked the various battles together. As you would expect from the author of a naval fiction series the Lakes action was well written and I look forward to reading more of the wider conflict from the perspective of Jonah Lee. Recommended.

Read more ...