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Alaric Bond

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His Majesty's Ship
by Alaric Bond   

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Category: 

Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Fireship Press ISBN-10:  1934757705
Pages: 

288

Copyright:  April 2009 ISBN-13:  9781934757703

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In the spring of 1795 HMS Vigilant, a 64 gun ship-of-the-line, is about to leave Spithead as senior escort to a small, seemingly innocent, convoy. The crew is a jumble of trained seamen, volunteers, and the sweepings of the press; yet, somehow, the officers have to mold them into an effective fighting unit before the French discover the convoy’s true significance.

Based on historical fact, His Majesty’s Ship will take you into the world of Nelson’s Navy, and captivate you all the way to it’s gripping conclusion.

“Bond has an extraordinary talent for describing the sights and sounds of an 18th Century man-of-war. When you finish this book you genuinely feel like you have been there—and no novel can receive higher praise than that.”


Professional Reviews

Old Salt Blog
Whereas most nautical adventure fiction follows the same general format - tracking the exploits of a young ship’s officer, Alaric Bond takes a refreshingly different tack. His latest novel, His Majesty’s Ship does not focus on a single hero but follows multiple officers and crew of the 64 gun HMS Vigilant. His range of characters and his use of multiple points of view makes the novel feel fresh, original, and competely authentic. It makes for a very fun read.

Bond’s use of multiple points of view solves several inherent problems in writing about the Georgian Navy. One of my complaints with several of the authors currently writing, (though not yet reviewed on this blog,) is that their novels tend to be highly episodic. There is the need to find something interesting for the protagonist to do to hold the reader’s interest. In Bond’s His Majesty’s Ship, the officers, crew and to a large extent the ship itself provide the action. The shifting points of view capture the constant bustle of life aboard the HMS Vigilant; from Matthew, the young volunteer, who is literally learning the ropes; to the friction in the wardroom between Lt. Rogers, a mediocre officer born of wealth and influence, and his less affluent fellow officers; to the challenges faced by Captain Shepard, who must mold his highly mixed crew into some sort of coherent team capable of surviving Atlantic storms as well as the French.

What is remarkable is that Bond pulls this off so gracefully. His characters start as vivid cameos who grow into well rounded individuals as the book progresses. These multiple points of view allow Bond to to develop a nuanced portrait of the complex social and political order aboard ship. Writers have often portrayed ships in the age of sail as one of two stereotypes. Jack Aubrey’s ships are invariably a “band of brothers” while Melville’s Whitejacket leans more toward “sodomy, rum, and the lash.” Bond’s HMS Vigilant is a wonderful mix from across the spectrum.

There are indeed Jolly Jack Tars, happy to be sailors; right alongside pressed men, angry with their fate; as well as Irishmen, caught by the press, who would be more than happy to bring their own rebellion against the crown in action aboard ship. Ambitious young lieutenants rub elbows with wizened petty officers. We see desertion, flogging, and attempted murder, as well as loyalty, courage, valor and wit. Rather than a single perspective, Bond’s HMS Vigilant is a tapestry of both the competing and cooperative aspirations of the various and varied officers and crew.

Bond’s writing flows easily. It is well crafted and stylish without calling undue attention to itself. I felt completely drawn into the book, into the ship itself, from the cramped and airless gundeck to dizzying heights of the cross-trees. I found myself reading slowly, because I was so enjoying the language, the characters and the real sense of being aboard Bond’s Vigilant.

I highly recommend Alaric Bond’s His Majesty’s Ship.



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