Midshipman Bolitho and the "Avenger" Hardcover – Feb 20 1978
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About the Author
Alexander Kent's great interest in the ships and men of the eighteenth century navy was aroused when he was still at school. Although he attended fleet reviews and explored modern warships and dockyards with his father, he found that the great days of square riggers and battles at close quarters captured his imagination. H.M.S. Victory, Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, was always high on his list of regular visits. He served in the Royal Navy as a young man, and saw action in the Battle of the Atlantic and other major theatres of war, but his first love of the great days of sail remained unshaken. Now firmly established as a leading writer of authentic sea stories, he still enjoys researching for new material from our rich naval heritage, His interests range from yachting to being a governor of the frigate Foudroyant, which, lying at anchor at Portsmouth, is the oldest British warship afloat.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In Richard Bolitho and the Avenger, Bolitho returns to his native Cornwall following his adventures in Richard Bolitho Midshipman. He brings fellow midshipman Martyn Dancer along. After some home cooking and introductions, it becomes obvious that there is something rotten in Cornwall. Murder, smuggling and witchcraft appear to be present in the area. Bolitho and Dancer spend the rest of the book trying to solve the mysteries on land and sea. Some of Bolitho's family relationships are explored along the way. The story is respectable if familiar and the novel is a quick light read. It is neither challenging nor terribly rewarding.
I was disappointed in several ways with Richard Bolitho and the Avenger. There is not much to this novel. The copy that I read was a hardback published in 1978 with a price tag of $10.50 which doesn't seem too unreasonable. However, there were only 143 pages and the print was not small. I don't think Kent gave the readers value for their money. Unlike its predecessor, much of the action takes place on land. Sure there are sailing passages and the climactic scene does take place at sea but it reads more like a change of pace for the author. It might have suited Kent after 10 years of Bolitho adventures but it doesn't fit when reading the series chronologically. Also, Bolitho seems to know less about command than he did in the first book.
Richard Bolitho and the Avenger is an enjoyable little story and it can be read in one sitting but I wouldn't go out of my way to obtain it. It's much like paying for a pint and getting a glass: you might enjoy what you got but still think that there should have been more.
Probably the best of this type of tale since C.S. Forrester's "Horatio Hornblower" series.
Once you start reading you'll find yourself hungry for the next installment and dreading the inevitable that some day you will have read them all...
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Because of the brevity of the narrative, the focus is quite properly on a single incident, rather than a whole naval campaign. But Kent, unfortunately, handles it all in an off-the-cuff manner reminiscent of Hugh Bolitho. There are numerous gaps in the story and the character development. (Those duels, that fire in the village.) He also spends a good deal more time on the preliminaries than he does on the culminating action and the ending is very weak indeed, depending on a deus ex machina resolution of the plot. One wonders if the author was merely fulfilling a contract and had other things on his mind.