on September 7, 2012
This book is one of the Bolitho series of naval historical fiction stories. The hero Richard Bolitho is now middle aged Admiral with a bad eye and a longing for his loved one back home in England. He and his inner circle, a family of sorts, is called into service one more time. This time the antagonist is the upstart United States and the plot is set during the War of 1812. The story gives a fair representation to both sides of the war and the title could have read `For My Countries Freedom.'
The sub plot of romance and relations is intertwined with the plot and relies on a back story that, in my opinion, is not descriptive enough for a first time reader to understand fully who was loving and divorcing who. But the sub plot does support the narrative that depicts some of the human cost of naval warfare with such things as painful farewells and loneliness.
The POV changes a couple of times and I was caught off guard and had to reread a few paragraphs to understand the perspective. But what I really liked about the story was the maritime minutiae such as the tar melting between the floor boards of the ship on hot days and sticking to the sailor's hands and feet. A real gem is the strength of the ship chapter, where the Captain teaches a midshipman a relevant leadership principal.
The story has a slow build up to the climactic battle which probably portrays the reality of naval patrolling as uneventful and then a explosive and short battle. All in all a swashbuckling navy yarn that is a must read for those who like the genre. If you like romance stories and want to read between the lines of naval historical fiction; that might work too.
on December 20, 2002
No kidding, this is a romance novel for mature husbands and wives to enjoy. It focuses on the trials of aging love when politics and war eventually force the lovers-Lady Somervell and Admiral Bolitho-apart (but also Adam, Keene, and Allday-familiar series characters-from their loves, too). Why, the story is a real tearjerker in the most honorable sense, and has uncommon psychological depth. What it doesn't have is much naval action-Bolitho doesn't even put to sea until half way through. He then experiences the wrenching responsibility of conscientious command, a theme of this series and especially in these later books. The title of this story has special meaning of a "just war" to Bolitho, but also to Kent's many American readers, for this is a story from late in the Napoleonic world war when a young America took up arms against the ruler of the seas. It is a story particularly instructive for Americans because it exposes the internal rifts and conflicts of conscience within the ranks of the faceless British in the War of 1812.
A hallmark of Kent's style is the smooth transition between the thoughts of one character and another, a style of presenting multiple viewpoints not even attempted by most authors. While Kent is "second-rate," I don't agree with another reviewer that Parkinson is one of the best: his prose is wooden and his sailors seem to end up doing a lot of land soldiering.
on August 13, 2001
While I enjoyed this book, I don't feel that it was up to par with the rest of the books in the series. The story seemed a bit too contrived and there was not enough action in the book. In addition, the action sequences were not up to par with what has been written in previous books. In summary, the story seemed a bit forced.