1794, the height of the French Revolution - Charles Hayden sets off aboard the ill-fated HMS Themis with orders to destroy a French frigate sailing from Le Havre and to gather intelligence from a royalist spy. On discovering French plans for an imminent invasion of England, Hayden must return to Portsmouth to give warning before it’s too late. But the enemy has been lying in wait for him, and so begins a dangerous chase out into the Atlantic and into the clutches of a powerful French squadron. After a thwarted attempt to masquerade as French sailors, Hayden and his officers are taken prisoner. A shipwreck following a storm and a case of mistaken identity befall Hayden and his men, as they try in desperation to escape in order to warn the Lords of the Admiralty. Failure will mean the invasion of England - and the guillotine for Hayden.
This book was originally published in the United Kingdom under the title Take, Burn, or Destroy.
©2012 Sean Russell (P)2013 W.F. Howes
The descriptions of life aboard an 18th Century Navy warship are fascinating. Russell inserts nautical terminology in such a way that you understand what is meant without any explanation. You really get a sense of what it would be like to be there.
I generally listen to audiobooks while I drive in the car. I found myself taking extra trips so that I could get back to the story. The story didn't necessarily keep me on the edge of my seat, but was so engaging that I just wanted to keep hearing more. It is well written and very interesting.
I have listened to over 130 audiobooks and Nick Boulton is the best narrator that I have heard. The voices that he gives to the characters really make them come alive. I get lost in the story and actually feel like there are different people talking. While some narrators struggle to assemble a large number of unique voices, particularly ones of the opposite sex, Nick Boulton accomplishes this with an natural ease.
The only problem with the book is that it ended rather abruptly, with a clear setup for another sequel. I look forward to the next novel in the Charles Hayden series.
Some People See What Is, and Never See What Can Be. AE
Russell is a very good story teller and the story is strong. It's the best Royal Navy series outside of Master and Commander and the Hornblower books. The three books available on Audible are worth the download and the narration is top notch.
I've listened to all the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin books and Cornwell's Sharpe series and scoured the bookstores for anything else that's in this category. The first book in this series was good--well worth reading. But he gets better with each book! This review doesn't have to go through the plot--it is certainly true that Russell and O'Brian use some of the same historical material, but these books are different enough and good enough to make them an excellent companion series to the best historical seafaring fiction of all time (Aubrey/Maturin). The last book makes ST Russell a solid second place, with many more books to be written. Who knows how much better he will get?
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