Napoleonic naval fiction, set during the Revolutionary wars, The Jackass Frigate differs from the normal Hornblower/Aubrey sagas in that there is no “hero who becomes an admiral”, rather characters from all divisions of the ship are featured, some to prosper, while others fail; many will continue in future books. Culminating in the pivotal Battle of Cape St Vincent, The Jackass Frigate is based on historical fact, and includes notable figures of the period including Jervis, Calder, Hardy and Nelson.
The waiting was probably the hardest part to bear; it would be all right once the action began. As soon as the guns started to speak and the ship was properly in the thick of it there would be no need to think. There would be no need to worry, to project the future in all of its myriad possibilities. To ponder on your own death, as well as the death of those about you. To wonder about the chances of survival, the thought calling forth visions of long distant friends and family; visions that must be put aside instantly if any show of composure is to be upheld. Images that determinedly repeated themselves in a different order, as soon as they had finally been cast out, until the mind became one continual spiral of jumbled yet recurring thoughts. It would be all right, once the action began, it always was; the hardest part to bear was probably the waiting
The Old salt Blog
Alaric Bond's Jackass Frigate is comfortable and familiar while managing to be fresh and distinctive at the same time, not an easy trick to pull off. More than anything else, it is simply fun to read. I picked it up and literally had a hard time putting it down. While that may be a cliché, in my case, it was indeed true.
Virtually every work of naval fiction since Marryatt has followed a young officer; whether as midshipman, lieutenant, captain or admiral. Jackass Frigate is different. Bond uses a wide range of characters and perspectives from the gun deck, to the cockpit, to the quarterdeck. Eighteenth century men-of-war were the most complex, technologically advanced machines of their day, requiring a wide range of skills and abilities to function It took far more than the officers on the quarterdeck to sail and to fight. Jackass Frigate gives the reader a glimpse at the ship in action, from top to bottom.
Bond gives voice to topmen, gunners, surgeon's mates, landsmen and idlers, as well as to the midshipmen, lieutenants, the master and, of course, the captain. The danger to this approach is that the voices can become jumbled, which to Bond's credit somehow doesn't happen. He has the enviable skill of making each sufficiently distinctive to stand out while under way or in the heat of battle. The shift between the various voices and perspectives is remarkably smooth and seamless.
Jackass Frigate follows the newly fitted out HMS Pandora from her maiden voyage to join the Mediterranean fleet in 1796 to the battle of Cape St. Vincent. Along the way, the captain and crew they find themselves surrounded by a French fleet, the First Lieutenant is murdered, rumors spread of a specter aboard ship, and they must fight in desperate single ship combat and assist in a brutal fleet battle. We also rub elbows with Admiral Jarvis and a young Commodore Nelson.
Lively, fast paced, and cinematic in scope, Jackass Frigate is a truly entertaining read.
Astrodene's Historical Naval Fiction
Just finished reading this excellent novel which deserves to be better known. It has a lot of well developed characters which gives good insight at all levels of the ships company and contains probably the best description of the Battle of Cape St. Vincent I've read in a fiction novel. It also seems to have a well developed back story for the characters as you get hints of their past on the 'Proteus' (renamed 'Vigilant' in later editions) which leaves you wanting to know more. If you haven't read it, I recommend it and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
An excellent novel which deserves to be better known. Has a lot of well developed characters which gives good insight at all levels of the ships company and contains probably the best description of the Battle of Cape St. Vincent I've read in a fiction novel. Also seems to be a well developed back story for the characters as you get hints of their past on the 'Proteus' which leaves you wanting to know more. If you haven't read it, I recommend it and I'm looking forward to the sequel.