The Third Book in the Fighting Sail Series
The Royal Navy is immobilised by mutiny, and the only thing that's standing in the way of an invasion is a commander who is communicating with a fleet that isn't there.
While Great Britain's major home fleets are immobilised by a vicious mutiny, Adam Duncan, commander of the North Sea Squadron, has to maintain a constant watch over the Dutch coast, where a powerful invasion force is ready to take advantage of Britannia's weakest moment.
With ship-to-ship duels and fleet engagements, shipwrecks, storms and groundings, True Colours maintains a relentless pace that culminates in one of the most devastating sea battles of the French Revolutionary War-the Battle of Camperdown.
The Third Book in the Fighting Sail Series
It was quite dark now, and what moon there was would not rise for a good three hours. Pandora, sailing under topsails alone, was barely making steerage way and, with ports closed and properly darkened, would hopefully merge into the gloom. But then light played strange tricks at night, and for all Banks knew, Pandora could still be visible to the enemy. He stared out at the two frigate’s last known position. They might be intending to face them; continue close-hauled, and attack from head on; or pass, tack, and come up on their stern, effectively trapping Pandora between themselves and the enemy fleet. The first course would merely drive them off; the second almost guaranteed their destruction. Either way it was likely to be sudden, with the enemy relying as much on their estimate of his position as he was on calculating theirs. It was simple; all he had to do was guess their orders and react accordingly; had they been instructed to chase off the annoying little frigate, or sink her?
The Old Salt Blog
Alaric Bond's new novel, True Colours, the third in his Fighting Sail series, is a fascinating and exciting look at a most perilous moment in British history. The novel begins in 1797. Britain is at war with the French and her Dutch allies. A French invasion force, supported by the formidable Dutch Navy is massing across the channel when the unthinkable occurs. The British fleet at Spithead mutinies. Not long after, the fleet at the Nore follows their example. The frigate Pandora returns from convoy duty after an attempted mutiny onboard, and only narrowly escapes being drawn into the Nore mutiny, as well.
The Pandora is dispatched to the North Sea fleet under the command of Admiral Duncan. It is, however, a fleet in name only. The great mutiny has stripped him of most of ships and so Duncan must pretend that his handful of ships is but the vanguard of a much larger fleet just over the horizon. If he can make the charade work, he may be able to buy enough time to gather together a fleet capable of defeating the Dutch and preventing an invasion.
There appears to be two divergent views of the Georgian navy. Most writers of nautical fiction portray the officers and the crew as Nelson did before Trafalgar, as a "band of brothers." Other writers suggest that Royal Navy traditions are as Churchill suggested, "Rum, sodomy and the lash." (A fair case might be made for rum, anyway.)
What is intriguing about True Colours is that Bond demonstrates that the two views may be not necessarily be contradictory. The Royal Navy sailors were the best sailors and shipboard fighters in the world. They were also ill treated and taken advantage of by the Admiralty and the British Parliament. The demands of the mutineers were not unreasonable and a mutiny should never have been necessary. At the same time, a mutiny in time of war is supremely badly timed and the mutineers at the Nore did go too far. Overall, Bond give us a nicely balance portrayal of the participants on both sides of the conflict.
Bond's portray of Admiral Adam Duncan is also fascinating. An under-appreciated character in naval history, Duncan's tactic of breaking the Dutch line, in the battle which would later be known as Camperdown, at the climax of the book, precedes Nelson's much lauded tactics at Trafalgar, by a full eight years.
In addition to portraying intriguing history, the writing in True Colours is simply wonderful. As with the other two books of the series, Bond does not focus on the young captain or a single character, but shifts gracefully through the points of view of the officers and men (and in one case, a woman,) from the gun deck, to the cockpit, to the wardroom. In the hands of a writer of lesser skill, these shifts of perspective might feel mechanical or confusing, but in True Colours and his previous books, Bond manages to make these shifts feel completely natural and almost organic. His ensemble of characters individually and collectively convey the setting and action so much more effectively than if limited to the viewpoint of one or two characters.
With True Colours, Alaric Bond unquestionably ranks with the best writers of nautical fiction. Highly recommended.
Astrodene's Historical Naval Fiction
In his new novel, True Colours, Alaric Bond continues the story of the frigate Pandora and the members of her crew. We are also introduced to some new characters in a story that skilfully takes us through the traumatic events of the two great mutiny's at Spithead and the Nore, as well as Duncan's struggle to blockade the Dutch with little support.
Culminating in the tactical manoeuvring of the Admirals, through cameo roles, and the bloody Battle of Camperdown, this novel was hard to put down as we were taken from one event to the next. The lives of Bond's characters, from all levels of Pandora's crew, continue to develop throughout, some in unexpected directions.
I thoroughly recommend this book and can't wait to pick up the next in the 'Fighting Sail' series
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