Julian Stockwin in this latest installment of the thrilling Thomas Kydd series at last brings us to the epic Napoleonic era Battle of Trafalgar, the most momentous clash of the great age of fighting sail. Stockwin puts Kydd right in the action among Admiral Horatio Nelson's desperate chase of French Admiral Villeneuve across the Atlantic and back and finally to the momentous battle that changed the course of history. In an example of how a series such as this entertains and edifies, Stockwin the expert provides this amateur reader a fine naval history lesson in placing Kydd the Frigate Captain in his proper role - first of providing his Commander in Chief with intelligence on the enemy's movements (as Stockwin has Nelson himself explain to Kydd) that brings the large line-of-battleships into action, then standing off in a support role. Kydd views the action from a distance, much as we the reader view it from the long gulf of history. Stockwin puts us into the center of action on board H.M.S. Victory as well, a vivid description of the horror of the battle, the exultation of triumph, and the tragedy of Nelson's death at the moment of victory.
On a side note, I'm puzzled at the Publisher's Weekly review above that complained of the seemingly slow pace leading up to battle - perhaps completely missing the point that, like a game of chess, a long period of tense but exciting maneuvering for advantage precedes the eventual clash, another fine example of Stockwin teaching the reader something of naval strategy in the correct historic context of the Battle of Trafalgar. Kydd did not have an iPhone when learning of the French fleet's escape - instead having to "crack on" furiously back to the fleet, rowing madly in his gig to the flagship, then dashing up the side to bring news to the eager Nelson waiting on deck, the 1800's equivalent of a text message. For the fan of fine historic fiction and naval adventure, including the fans of Patrick O'Brian, David Donachie, C.S. Forester, and others, buy this book today.