AOS Book Reviews


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

Review: Hostile Shores by Dewey Lambdin

Hostile ShoresThe start of this latest adventure for Captain Sir Alan Lewrie sees the frigate Reliant and his squadron of small vessels putting to sea from Nassau to face an unknown enemy, possibly the powerful French squadron they have heard about. After this dramatic start Lewrie has to haul down his broad pendant and sail back to England with a ship badly in need of a refit.

Reliant is nearing the end of her commission and when Lewrie visits the Admiralty he is soon intriguing to get his ship back to sea rather than face unemployment. As a result he finds himself on a voyage to join the squadron of Sir Home Popham.

Under this colourful officer he takes part in the action to seize Cape Town from the Dutch and is then part of the ill fated adventure where Popham heads off to Buenos Aires.

The first two chapters of this book really grab your attention and thereafter it is hard to put down. As usual the narrative explores the martial side of lewrie's character but also portrays the private man, someone who takes his pets to sea with him and is somewhat of a rogue in his pursuit of Lydia Stangbourne. There is a lot in the depiction of Lewrie that makes him stand out from the work of other authors of similar series and coupled with his depictions of life at sea makes Lamdin's work something I want to read more of.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it.

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Review: Lewrie and the Hogsheads by Dewey Lambdin

Lewrie and the HogsheadsLewrie and the Hogsheads is a novella in which news that a Spanish privateer has taken an American merchant ship gives Lewrie the opportunity to escape the boredom of port and take his smaller ships hunting. He has a strong feeling that all is not what it seems and the narrative unfolds the strategy to uncover the mystery.

As a novella it's fairly short but it is well written and gives the reader the full Lewrie experience. This is particularly useful as with 19 books in the series it can be daunting and expensive to start a new series. The ebook also includes the first two chapters of the latest full book, Hostile Shores, and having read that you will be off to purchase the full book.

If you have not yet purchased an e-reader and still want a taster of Lewrie a brief excerpt of the novella is available on the book description page.

The novella is highly recommended.

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Pipester Review: This Wonderful Year by Mark E. Benno

This Wonderful YearEdward Pamprill is a younger son of one of the richest lords in England. By his twenty-first birthday in 1805, the year of Nelson's victory at Trafalgar, he is a wastrel, given up to a life of drink, gambling and debauchery. When his father realizes that they are competing for the affections of the same housemaid, he arranges for Edward to be taken up as a deserter by a Royal Navy press gang. He is stripped of his finery and dragged aboard the HMS Atlantis, frigate, which sails immediately.

What might have been a story of degradation and despair becomes considerably less fraught, thanks to Edward's optimism, resilience and good luck. It is clear to all aboard Atlantis that Pamprill is a gentleman who has never served in the navy and that the charge of desertion is absurd. With the exception of one inimical lieutenant, everyone aboard thinks that Pamprill was unfairly impressed and awaits official word that he can be released. Unfortunately, an active frigate can stay ahead of the mail for some time, and it will be many months before Edward's situation is resolved. In the meantime, several of Edward's gentlemanly attributes are very useful aboard the Atlantis. His penmanship is excellent, and lands him an appointment as the captain's clerk and a berth in the warrant officer's mess. The ship soon sees action and his thorough training with a Prussian fencing master makes Edward a hero among his shipmates. In fact, the superstitious tars decide that Edward's presence is auspicious; he is their "lucky penny" and the Atlantis will be successful as long as he is aboard. As Edward gains confidence and competence, he grows into increasingly responsible leadership roles, including two extended adventures ashore (one in Naples and one in the United States) whose success depends on his unique combination of lordly upbringing and navy affiliation.

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Review: First Voyage by David Healey

First VoyageFirst Voyage is the first book in a new series, called The Sea Lord Chronicles, which follows young Alexander Hope as he joins his first ship, His Majesty's Frigate Resolution, sailing for a patrol in the channel during the war against Napoleon.

The novel has two main fantasy elements which distinguish it from a normal 'follow the career' series.  Firstly the ships have an 'air wing' in the form of gryphon's. Something similar has been tried before but Healey has put much more emphasis on the naval aspect and for the dedicated HNF fan it is a much better read. One or two terms used may tend to grate a bit to the purist but it is an alternate reality so some differences should be expected.

The second difference is that Hope is a Sea Lord, one who has the ability to manipulate the actions of water. At the start of the novel he does not know he has inherited the ability from a famous ancestor and the narrative follows his growing awareness of the power he possesses and it's implications for his shipmates and country.

This was a good, well paced novel which brought the various plot aspects together well and I look forward to reading more of Hope's adventures. Recommended.

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Review: Barbary Slave by Robert Evans

Barbary SlaveBarbary Slave follows the adventures of American sailor James Cathcart as his ship is taken by Barbary pirates and he spends the following eleven years as a slave of the Dey of Algiers while American politicians refuse to pay ransom.

The book is largely set ashore as Cathcart works his way through the slave hierarchy and his character is used to explore the interaction between Christian slaves and their Muslim captors both at the local level and in international diplomacy. It also brings out the internal tensions in the region between the Turks and the various Arab factions.

In reading age of sail fiction you frequently come across sections about the Barbary pirates and whilst there is little sea action in the book, this is to some extent it's attraction as I enjoyed the insight this detailed study of the realities of both life ashore as a slave and of the situation from the point of view from the Dey of Algiers gave me.

The book had good characterisations and the various aspects of the plot were brought together in a well written and well paced narrative that was good to read. Recommended.

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Review: A Certain Threat by Roger Burnage

A Certain ThreatA Certain Threat is the first book in a new series about the Merriman family and if subsequent books keep up this standard it will be a good one. The plot follows the adventures of James Merriman as he is promoted, given a new ship, the sloop Aphrodite, and sent off to the Irish Sea to deal with smugglers, traitors and espionage.

The book has a full cast of well rounded characters surrounding Merriman in the form of his family, friends and crew. As Burnage unravels the mystery of who is plotting against England the focus is skilfully shifted in awell paced narrative that is hard to put down.  

Part of the novel is based around activities ashore but it was well blended with the naval action. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this new addition to the naval fiction family and look forward to reading more.


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