Under Enemy Colors Paperback – Nov 4 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Russell's first-rate debut features taut plotting, liberal action and an attractively modest hero: Royal Navy Lt. Charles Hayden. In 1793, Britain is at war with revolutionary France, and Hayden, the son of an English father and a French mother, feels torn in half. Denied a promotion, he reluctantly accepts appointment as first lieutenant to the frigate Themis: the commander, Capt. Josiah Hart, has powerful connections in the Admiralty, but is widely disparaged among the fleet as a tyrannical coward. Hayden is dismayed to find the ship in a state of dreadful disarray, the crew on the verge of mutiny and Hart hostile to Hayden's remedial efforts. With the French in sight, tensions aboard come to a boil. Russell writes knowledgeably about late–18th-century naval warfare and lyrically about the sea. In Hayden, he has created a complex, sympathetic hero. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Both C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels reaped critical success and legions of faithful fans. Those authors succeeded by blending careful history, vast knowledge of ships and the sea, fascinating glimpses of the period, and ripping-good adventure into spellbinding fiction. Now Russell is bidding fair to succeed the departed masters (and join those, like Bernard Cornwell, still asea). It's 1793, and England is battling revolutionary France. Honorable, heroic Lieutenant Charles Hayden has only one chance to get back to sea: he must join HMS Themis as first lieutenant, under Captain Sir Josiah Hart, despite Hart's reputation for being "shy" about engaging the enemy. Hayden accepts the appointment and quickly learns that Hart is not only a coward but also a tyrant toward his crew, some of whom are intrigued by the "republican" ideas coming out of the U.S. and France. Perhaps not yet quite as polished as Forester or O'Brian, Russell has the makings of an A-lister and is sure to attract fans of fighting sail. Gaughan, Thomas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I'll give you an example. The main characters Hayden, Wickham and Hawthorne are escaping the shores of France in a small open boat - they spy a frigate approaching and not until it is almost upon them #within hailing distance) do they recognise it as ....how remarkable.... his former vessel with his former mentor Capt Bourne aboard. Hayden was a lieutenant on that vessel, surely he would recognise her at a bit further than 200m. Later on in the book its remarkable that one of the "Middies" managed to recognise a vessel hull down below the horizon. (oooh - I hated that too "middies" for midshipman - there were others as well - "hanky" for handkerchief (its fine for a characters dialogue but surely not in the text). Oh - and my big grrrr upon grrr - "color" not colour in the title ).
Perhaps I'm being a little harsh. I did enjoy the drama of the last 60 pages or so. Its fun once you get past the petty picky points - I suppose I had built it up in my mind as having read some of the other reviews.
In conclusion then - dont have too great an expectation from it - its a becalmed, wallowing pinnace when alongside POBs 1st rate.
Lieutenant Charles Hayden is a fascinating and most agreeable leading character, and takes shape very well in Russell's hands. His nemesis Captain Hart is undoubtedly the most easily detestable character yet to sail under British colours, and this wonderful description of their fateful single voyage is an outstanding read that I heartily recommend to anyone who enjoys the work of Patrick O'Brian.
Bravo, Mr. Russell!
This piece of naval jettison is beyond belief.
The characters behave like members of the cast of a low brow war drama straight from Hollywood's B grade weekenders.
Character development is weak, and the Horrible Captain Hart is a caricature of Bligh who at least had good qualities.
From dialog not appropriate to the 18th century and naval practice extremely bizarre, we go to absurd touches like the commanding officer discussing policy and what to do with his subordinates, and highly improbable conversations about how to manage the ship.
This piece of genre exploitation belongs on the remainders list.
Can anyone imagine the assignment of a lieutenant to watch over the conduct of a captain on behalf of the Admiralty? Or a lieutenant of the 18th century accepting this assignment?
Or a midshipman disobeying orders and it being passed off as quite OK?
The scene descriptions are weak, the willing stupidity of the enemies and the amazing number of coincidental happenings only serve to provide fuel to this weak pot boiler that barely reaches a simmer.
I recommend Patrick O"Brian as an antidote to this bitter pill of bad writing.
Most recent customer reviews
It is a swashing buckling navy yarn. In the age of sail the hero fights the enemy who is also the captain of his ship. Read morePublished 2 months ago by MS
Although the history and navel terminology in this story are very much intriguing I consider a story to be a winner for its merits of entertainment. Read morePublished 11 months ago by John Wellings
The book is very well written, as the author took the time and developed his story in just the right amount of detail and forethought.. Read morePublished 19 months ago by o. Kim Goheen
I love the tales of the wooden ships and iron men , being a former sailor I can relate to a lot of the life style.Published on Jan. 25 2014 by James
Russell writes in a similar manner to C.S. Forester who is my all-time favorite historical sea-faring writer. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2012 by Patrick Hampson
After reading and enjoying several of Sean Russell's books I have to say that Under Enemy Colours ranks as one of his very best. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2011 by J.E. Russell
After reading the complete Horatio Hornblower series, followed by the full Alexander Kent series, I was hungry for more Napoleonic naval novels -- and was tickled to find Under... Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2011 by Richard Dickson