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Under Enemy Colors Paperback – Nov 4 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (Nov. 4 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425223620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425223628
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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.

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By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Oct. 16 2009
Format: Paperback
As I was reading this novel, I got a very strange, uneasy feeling about its content and structure. As a work of historial fiction, with some decent potential to go places and even rival the "Hornblower" series, Russell squanders a lot of the reader's good will and patience by involving his hero, First Lieutenant Hayden, in a series of very lukewarm and desultory experiences. All the confrontations with various enemies - an irascible superior officer, revolutionary France and mutineers - are anything but rousing and blood-curdling. We know from what Russell shares about Hayden is that he has set out on an ill-defined mission to shadow another British naval officer, the nasty Captain Hart. Instead of submitting to this mysteriously inane assignment, Hayden and a few of his midshipmen begin to chart their own heroic course of action to take the war to the enemy from the decks of a decrepit old British frigate, the 'Themis'. Many of Hayden's daring efforts to reconnoitre the open waters, engage and seize French vessels, and rescue French noblemen involve a high degree of courage and tact that only he seems to possess. Yet, as a kind of convenient fallback, Russell allows for a fair bit of outside intervention from friends in high places to get Hayden out of numerous fixes and bring him and his crew safely back to English port, in readiness for the next jaunt. Since the novel is mainly about Hayden's swashbuckling career as a mariner and his brushes with destiny, the reader will be treated to plenty of deep-seated emotions playing out in the man's life: romance, fear, resolve, and courage. The story has a well-orchestrated plotline and an element of sustained conflict and rivalry with a decent sprinkling of naval terminology to give the writer some credibility as a naval buff.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Avid O'Brian fans beware - this one will have you cringing & wincing. There is the promise of a good yarn - eloquent dialogue, reasonably interesting characters (although its incomprehensible just how few of them there are# - but there are just some things that .... well to be honest made me leave the book on the night stand vowing never to open its pages again. Invariably I did of course - mostly spurred on by the fact that my hard earned cash had been spent to purchase it. Had I borrowed this tome from a friend I wouldnt have made it past page 100 or so.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
It was with deep satisfaction that I finished this wonderful novel, which turned quickly to eager anticipation when I read in the author's notes at the book's end that a sequel is under construction and due to be launched in 2009.

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!
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Format: Paperback
A novel requires the willing suspension of disbelief. Incredulous, I grimly persevered in reading the possibly worst novel in the "tradition of Hornblower" I have ever picked up.
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.
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