First about me - I am an historical and nautical fiction nut. I have read many of the best in nautical fiction, including Forester, O'Brian, C. Northcote Parkinson, Dudley Pope, Richard Woodman . . .
Second, how I bought this book. I looked at reviews extensively, and wow, they looked great. Usually with a "new" author I will check a book out from my library first, but the library did not have it. I took a gamble and bought it, I was really sorry I did.
I am a history buff, esp. re: the French Revolution and Napoleonic periods. As such, I found the errors (and not just nautical) in this book to be astonishing for an author with the high level of great reviews he has gotten - and not just from Amazon readers. Also he is a sailor ... well.
Let me say this: For those of you who are new to nautical fiction, do not know or care about historical detail and accuracy, and are not worried about character development, you may enjoy this author's work, and may give it even 4 stars. It has a lot of "action" (accurate or not) and some people enjoy that.
Some details on what I found disappointing:
In the beginning we "re-meet" (this is Book Two) the hero, Charles Hayden, who is reassigned to the ship from the first book, where there was a mutiny. Hayden has been promoted by the Admiralty to the level of Master and Commander (a rank unique to the British Royal Navy of the time - a sort of half-captain who, by naval tradition, is *always* addressed as "Captain LastName").
Captain Hayden enters abruptly. There is little "back story." He meets and talks to people on the ship who I suppose I should know, but as I never read the first book, I had not many clues as to their rank or why he is glad to see them. Writers like Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O'Brian almost always manage to sneak in a summary of the "story so far" and of the repeat characters, meaning one can pick of one of the "Sharpe's" or "Aubrey-Maturin" series mid way through and not be lost as I was here.
The assigned Post Captain to this 32-gun frigate decided he does not want her due to her "bad luck" (sailors are very superstitious, including officers)and leaves her under his 1st lieutenant with the crew in Plymouth to protest to his friends in London for another ship. The Admiralty sends our hero, a mere M&C, to sail her and her crew to meet Admiral Lord Hood at Gibraltar. What, they could not find a Post-Captain anywhere "on the beach" and on half-pay desperate enough to to take her? Hard to believe.
The story itself has problems in the writing of it. I don't want to belabor this review further, I will give one big example: the drawn-out voyage of the Naval ships and their escorted merchant convoy down the Bay of Biscay was hard to follow. The battles were very, very confusing. The leaping back and forth as to where the escorting ships were, what the convoyed ships were doing vs. the Naval ships, etc. made me dizzy.
To skip way ahead, I was waiting for the book to get to the "point" of the story as in the book's descriptions, meaning the battles on Corsica, only to find out that that is a mere quarter of the book.
In summary, the characters were poorly drawn, especially the hero; there were far too many nautical and British naval errors in terminology and practices (the carpenter's crew were making cots? That's the sailmaker's job); too many distractions such as the attendance of the hero at a performance of Romeo and Juliet using a character based on the very real "Romeo" Coates in the early stages, and then a ridiculous golf game that was awkwardly inserted and went on far too long. (Neither scene, to me, added anything, not even humor, to the book or the characters.)
This author has the potential to be a much better writer. He certainly has the makings of a good plot here, but he needs discipline, lessons in plot outline and staging, better editing and some serious research into the ways of the British Navy before I will read another book of his again.
All this said, I repeat: For those of you who are new to nautical fiction, do not know or care about historical detail and accuracy, and are not worried about character development, you may enjoy this author's work, and may give it even 4 stars. It has a lot of "action" (accurate or not).