Battle Won Hardcover
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"Russell's encyclopedic command of nautical lore, joined to his rare ability to spin a ripping yarn, combine to place the reader right in the middle of the action, of which there is plenty." Neal Stephenson "An unqualified seal of approval. This is gloriously readable stuff." The Bookseller" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
S. Thomas Russell is a lifelong sailor whose passion for the sea-and his love of nautical history-inspired "Under Enemy Colors," --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The book is unique in this genre because it has a plethora of different and sometimes interesting sidebars. The author used these sidebars to paint a picture of the historical social context of those times. Some of the sidebars are interesting, but others like the golf game was a distraction for me. The characters are not all the usual players who inhabit this genre. There are heroes and villains, and then there are a few real people struggling to survive on a navy ship.
My only complaint is that I didn't find a date at the beginning and I had to guess as to when the story happened. But the story kept me reading and that's what action adventure stories are for; to entertain. I dip my ensign to this sea tale.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
What makes A Battle Won so absorbing is simply that Russell writes exceptionally well. It is easy to slip into and be enveloped by the book. The scenes, both on shipboard and in Corsica, are well researched and the characters consistently both vivid and believable. It is, to use the cliché, a real page-turner, and sets us up for the next book in the series where Captain Hayden must again overcome the unfairness and ill fortune that blocks the advancement that he so richly deserves.
The only negative thing I can say about the book is also a positive, depending on your perspective. Captain Hayden and his exploits fit perfectly into the archetype of the historical naval fiction genre. He is a young and talented officer from a good background, yet held back by family history. He has more enemies than allies in the Admiralty yet ultimately rises in the rank through sheer ability. This brief bio applies to Charles Hayden, yet could also be applied to Jack Aubrey, Richard Bolitho, Horatio Hornblower and perhaps a score of others. What makes A Battle Won distinctive is Russell's story telling. While reading the book, I felt at home, in comfortable surroundings. While the territory is familiar, it still seems fresh and original.
My one recurring complaint with much of traditional naval fiction is that it can be chronically episodic. Russell succeeds in avoiding this in A Battle Won. The major sections of the book, separated by diverting intermissions, end up feeling all part of the whole. Very nicely done.
A Battle Won will be savored by fans of historical naval fiction and will be a delight for those new to the genre. Highly recommended.
Russell clearly knows his stuff when it comes to seafaring and his action sequences are taut and riveting. His descriptions of the rugged Corsican terrain, over which Hayden labours to manhandle naval guns, reveal an affection for that island which he emphasises in his afterword.
As always with this genre, the enjoyment of the story very much depends upon our empathy with the central character. Hayden (not yet a post captain) is modest, humorous, a brilliant seaman and leader (of course!) and an altogether likeable man.
Similarly, the secondary characters are well drawn and unfailingly interesting.
If I have any criticism of the novel, it is that a couple of the sequences would have benefited from a little editing. The task of hauling the guns over rocky terrain of Corsica would not have been effective if too much detail had been skimped. Neverthelss the passage could have been shortened a little to avoid a little dragging of the pace. Similarly, although genuinely funny and interesting, an episode describing an early golf match is slightly overdrawn. These are, nonetheless, relatively minor flaws in a great read and I look forward eagerly to the next episode of Hayden's career...no doubt glittering although fraught with difficulties.
Enjoy the read.
In this book Sean Thomas Russel puts his half-English, half French officer Lieutenant Charles Hayden back in command of the frigate Themis on which he had to contend with a lazy and incompetent but well-connected captain, and a mutiny, in the first book.
To follow in the footsteps of writers of the calibre of C.S. Forester, Patrick O'Brien, and C Northcote Parkinson must take a great deal of courage, and to make a new naval hero stand out from them is quite difficult. I don't think either of Russell's first two books are quite up to the standard of those three, but both are as good or better than most of the more recent crop of historical naval fiction.
Mind you, like some of the best of the other novels in this genre, "A battle won" is not so much fiction as novelised history in which the author's fictional central characters have effectively been inserted into real historical events.
Charles Hayden is the son of an English father, long dead, and a French mother who has remarried, to an American ship-owner, and re-located to Boston. At the start of the previous book, in 1793, Hayden was offered the post of First Lieutenant of the new frigate HMS Themis - but with secret orders that made the job a poisoned chalice of the worst kind.
Hayden had to contend with just about every stock challenge in sailing navy fiction before putting down a mutiny, defeating the French, and winning a coveted and richly deserved promotion to the rank of Master and Commander, the first rung on the ladder to higher rank. He was also promised command of a sloop, HMS Kent, and was on the verge of forming an understanding with a delightful lady called Henrietta.
At the start of this book, Hayden is waiting in Plymouth for the Kent to arrive so that he can take command of her, when he is summoned to see the Port Admiral. HMS Themis is due to be sent to join Lord Hood's mediteranean fleet: having lost patience with the captain who was supposed to take command of her, the port admiral orders Hayden to take acting command of Themis as a "job captain" and sail her to Hood, escorting a convoy on the way.
The battles on sea and at land which follow, from the fall of the royalist rebellion in Toulon to British support for an independent Corsica, would have seemed too extraordinary to be true had not the most remarkable battles and characters in the book been based closely on real events and people. Russell explains in an author's note at the end of the book how certain exploits of HMS Themis and Charles Hayden were based on the real achievements of the frigate HMS Juno and those of Captain George Cook: the real and extraordinary characters who are brought to life in the pages of the novel include the corsican general Paoli and Colonel (later General) John Moore.
The obvious challenges Hayden has to contend with are the defeat of French soldiers and sailors, including a fortress at Mortella which so impressed the British that copies of the design were built as coastal defence fortifications all over Britain and called (the name was slightly mispelled) Martello Towers. But he also has to contend with difficult colleagues, and with the consequences of an act of kindness to two refugees which is repaid with betrayal, threatening Hayden with both financial ruin and the loss of the fair Henrietta.
There is a "hanging" ending as Hayden heads back to sea at the end of the book, leaving several of the storylines unresolved, and the reader eagerly awaiting the third volume in the series.
I enjoyed both the first two books in this story and can recommend them.
- Never have I seen such unabashed bad luck and tragedy on a main character. Especially for a book with the title "A Battle Won". The poor guy, who does nothing but the right thing, is tortured by one major problem and disrespect after another. I only kept reading because I could only hope his luck would eventually change and he would come out on top. Instead of him getting the recognition he deserved the coup de grâce was in the end of the book where the planets and stars came crashing down on his head. Geez....I was depressed after reading this book.
- The second main complaint was how far fetched the actions and events where. I don't want to give it away in case you do read the book, but I can tell you this " Star Trek" was more believable.
- And one minor complaint...There was a chapter with them playing golf....yes golf! I actually flipped pages until it was over.
There are so many good examples of books on this genre, this one is NOT worth the read.
And honestly the only reason I read the whole book is because I was waiting for something good to finally happen....which it did not. Like a bad movie you don't turn off because you can't believe it can be this bad....Well this is what I went through.