||August 27, 2012
The Patriot's Fate maintains a relentless pace that climaxes in thrilling naval action and noble sacrifice
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"King could hardly keep himself from smiling. He was dressed in seaman's duck trousers and a plain cotton shirt, doing work that could not by the widest stretch of credibility be called enjoyable; yet, once more, he was a lieutenant in His Majesty’s Navy. More than that, he had been appointed to one of the best frigates the old boy possessed and was serving with men he knew, liked and respected.
They had been hard at it since first light: seven hours with just a brief break for breakfast, and there was a wealth of tasks to finish before any of them slept. But still the feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment was all but overpowering. With every hoy or lighter that came alongside, another important commodity was taken on board, be it beef, spirit, powder or men; and, as the ship settled deeper into the water, a new life seemed to develop within her.
She was coming alive; more than that, due to the input in so many quarters, she was almost being born again. Whatever had been before would be forgotten, and a new HMSScylla was appearing to start an unspoiled life under a fresh command. And King was part of that process – an important part. With every decision or order a piece of himself was being given to the ship and, in return, a portion of Scylla passed back for him to keep for always."
Fascinating history & Rousing Nautical Adventure
Alaric Bond's The Patriot's Fate, the fifth in his Fighting Sail series, is an exciting nautical adventure that is also a rich and fascinating voyage through the history, politics and complex divided loyalties of Britain at the end of the eighteenth century.
Many novels in the genre follow the model used by C.S. Forester, Patrick O'Brian and so many others, where the focus is the career of a single Royal Navy officer. The Patriot's Fate, like the other books in Bond's Fighting Sail series, is told through multiple perspectives, ranging from the ship's captain, to the junior officers and warrants, to Jack Tars and the ship's boys. The approach gives a much broader sense of what is going on aboard ship. It works particularly well in The Patriot's Fate because it allows parallel and overlapping story lines that keep the novel moving along briskly.
In The Patriot's Fate, Bond has been careful in choosing his history. The climax of the book is the Battle of Tory Island in October of 1798. Just over two months before, an admiral named Nelson ruined Napoleon's plans in Egypt at Aboukir Bay. The famous Battle of the Nile, as it has become known, is completely and refreshingly absent from Patriot's Fate. The story of that battle is wonderful but it has been retold so often, in so many other novels, that as a reader I felt grateful to be taken elsewhere. While the Battle of Tory Island was far smaller that the Battle of the Nile, it was no less consequential, leading directly to the Treaty of Union between England and Ireland.
In 1798, the Society of United Irishmen, lead by the charismatic Wolfe Tone, is ready to rise again against the British. The French are again assisting the Irish by sending ships and troops. As a French fleet of troopships and men-of-war bears down on the coast of Ireland, a single British frigate must delay them until help arrives to stop the invasion. By the vagaries of chance and heritage, friends and shipmates find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. The sense of conflicting loyalty to friends, country and cause is gripping as the guns begin to fire.
Bond is especially good at creating believable and engaging characters. Readers of his past books will be pleased to be reunited with Captain Sir Richard Banks, Lieutenant Tom King, the Mannings and the unfortunate Irishman, Micheal Crowley, among others. New readers will be pleased to make their acquaintance. New characters like Betsey, the surgeon's wife, clever and capable, if just a touch lacking in virtue, are also great fun.
The Patriot's Fate is an exciting tale that is extremely difficult to put down. It left me sorry that it had ended and hungry for more. Highly recommended.
Another winner from Alaric Bond
Well, he's done it again! The eagerly anticipated fifth instalment of Alaric Bond's 'Fighting Sail' series is with us at last and it is another corker! Set at the conclusion of the Irish uprising of 1798, with Britain's army brutally putting down the rebellion on land, The Patriot's Fate follows Wolf Tone's attempt to bring a French invasion force to bear while Royal Navy elements desperately seek to prevent them from landing. It is a story of cat-and-mouse on the high seas culminating in a dramatic climax.
As before in this series, the story is told from the viewpoint of several characters rather than just a single hero: most of these are already familiar from earlier books, but we also follow the exploits of a contingent of Irish 'rebels' in equal measure. Bond's skill is to shift perspective between this relatively large cast without in the least disrupting the flow or disorientating the reader, effortlessly weaving these multiple elements into a slow-boiling narrative that informs and entertains in equal measure as tension builds.
Bond's mastery of story-building and characterization is matched by his authoritative handling of the complexities of shipboard life, a problem faced by all who write about sailing ships. Technical terms cannot be avoided, but Bond deftly steers a path through them, and should anyone be unsure, a useful glossary is appended to explain most of them.
The Patriot's Fate is an un-put-downable 'page turner' that should establish Alaric Bond as one of the best historic naval fiction writers currently active. It doesn't get much better than this! Highly recommended.
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