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The Inshore Squadron [Mass Market Paperback]

Alexander Kent
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars The continuing adventures of Richard Bolitho Feb. 10 2004
Bolitho is promoted to Rear Admiral and given command of a squadron assigned to the Baltic, where the Tsar of Russia is trying to create an alliance with the scandinavians, and simultaneously make an alliance with Napoleon. Bolitho meets a relative of his late wife, who bears a close resembland to her, and loses his heart to her.

This is another great Kent novel, set in 1800 from the viewpoint of the British Navy. This is the 13th book out of 26 in the Bolitho series, and they are all exciting depictions of life aboard ships of His Brittanic Majesty's fleet. Like the rest of them, one gets the feeling that the period is accurately depicted, with sufficient detail and character development to make you feel that you are a witness to history.

I must admit that I am a fan of Alexander Kent (a pseudonym) and his naval fiction. He seems very knowledgeable about square riggers, their armament, and the problems inherent in naval warfare with only the wind to provide propulsion.

Do I recommend these books? Absolutely!

Joseph (Joe) Pierre, USN (Ret)

author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books
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4.0 out of 5 stars Deja vú Feb. 6 2002
Ever humble in his sterling achievements, a popular hero cheered by his men, Richard Bolitho has been made rear-admiral. Bolitho has moved away from his more happy-go-lucky (but never sky-larking!) enthusiam of youth and turned towards introspection and the burdens of ever broader commands of, necessarily, ever more anonymous people (now grown to 3000). Kent seems increasingly interested in writing of the psychology and pressures of supreme command. We see the thinking of The Admiralty vying with the jealousies of admirals, or the uncertainties of information and of diplomatic choices. In the climactic battle for Copenhagen we see Bolitho make his first cold-blooded command decision to throw away a ship in favor of the survival of his fleet as a whole.
This is an often grim story that jumps between English ports and the entry to the Baltic Sea, plots and battles, health and death, and points of view. As with the novels of Hornblower and Drinkwater, Bolitho's Baltic mission is intimately tied to Tsar Paul's potential (mes-)alliance with Napoleon in 1801, and the British attempts to prevent it. Britain was fighting the greatest threat to its existence in 800 years, struggling to keep any allies at all on the continent to face the totalitarian French juggernaut (Hitler's model). The secondary story is about Adam Pascoe, Bolitho's orphaned nephew, and his growth as an officer in the squadron through trying personal relationships and, finally, knowledge of his birth. Extraordinary coincidences threaten to repeat some of the dark episodes of earlier stories: a wound that again drives Bolitho out of his mind, Pascoe's involvement in another duel like his traitorous father's, a carriage wreck like that which killed his beloved wife, and someone providentially like her....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb treatment of a Napoleonic Sideshow June 14 2001
Alexander Kent has chosen an interesting theme for the Inshore Squadron, the British expedition against Denmark. It is a fine choice of topics and allows for a great deal of character developement.
Richard Bolitho, now a flag officer himself, is thrust into the frontlines of nautical diplomacy. He is discovering that it takes more skill running the gauntlet of politics than it ever took in a broadside to broadside action. Now he is given the overall mission and learns that if he succeeds, no one will know and if he fails, he will be relieved of duty without a moments hesitation by the Admiralty.
In the midst of this hazardous assignment, he meets a woman that he is drawn to. Belinda is the cousin of one of Bolitho's former officers, who was also his brother-in-law and whos sister, Bolitho married only to loose her later in a coach accident. They meet coincidently when her coach is in an accident and Bolitho's coach is first on the scene. Deja vu?
The relationship builds but not smoothly. Belinda knows of Bolitho's first wife in fact vaguely resembles her. She knows this and doesn't want to be seen as a replacement for his first wife. It is this undercurrent that follows their relationship and you wonder, if in fact, she is right.
Adam Bolitho is now a lieutenant and we start to see that he is more his father's son then his uncle's nephew. Dueling rears it's ugly head again for Bolitho. His brother fled to America after killing an officer in a duel and it seems like Adam is riding down the same road.
Thomas Herrick is back again as flag captain. He has matured as a captain and also has a grounding influence on Bolitho. He grows in his role of falg captain and is no longer looking over his shoulder for Bolitho's approval or sanction.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bolitho in Shadow May 5 2000
This is a more sombre book than any of the earlier Bolitho chronicles, almost as if the grey northern skies it plays out under cast their shadow over events. The bulk of the action plays out in the eastern North Sea and in the Kattegat and Bolitho is seriously wounded and convalescent for much of the story. In the midst of all this romantic interest enters his life but the female in question is little luckier than Bolitho's earlier women - who appear to be born to suffer! The climax involves a side-action to the Battle of Copenhagen and while Nelson turns a blind eye, Richard Bolitho finds himself barely surviving attach by a swarm of Danish rowed-gunboats. The technical detail, and the continuing development of familiar characters, are as engrossing as ever, but the novel has little of the sense of adventure of earlier ones. It's possibly not surprising - the Copenhagen action was a painful necessity for the Royal Navy, undertaken with resignation and from a sense of duty, but without the almost missionary element that characterised the sea war against the French.
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