In one fatal season, the natural order of maritime power since Trafalgar was destroyed. In bringing home Bengali saltpeter for the peninsular campaign with military and civilian passengers, Britain lost 14 of her great "Indiamen", either sunk or taken by enemy frigates. Many hundreds of lives were lost, and the East India Company was shaken to its foundations. The focus of these disasters, military and meteorological, was a tiny French outpost in mid-ocean: the island known as Mauritius.
This is the story of that season. It brings together the terrifying ordeal of men, women, and children caught at sea in hurricanes and those who survived to take up the battle to drive the French from the Eastern seas. Mauritius must be taken at any cost!
Part one is a bit of a mess--the book on paper might be better if it has charts and tables and time-lines.
Even so, it's fascinating to see how the view from the British Navy and the view from the East India Company differ (especially if you're a fan of the Aubrey/Maturin series--more on that later). Important issues include flogging, starting, and a big thing that made the Indiamen miserable at fighting--impressing hands into Navy ships. They hadn't a prayer of getting let alone keeping enough trained people to fight and sail at the same time.
The second part covers the same events as O'Brian's Mauritius Command.
And we find out how much liberty he's taken with the facts. Rather of a lot. But the details of the main battle seemed pretty much the same.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This is a Naval History about an area of the world about which little is written and few of us visit. The author has a bright, fresh and unashamedly old fashioned style which lends atmosphere. I found it easy to listen to our reader on this occasion (and my most frequent criticism of Audible is the annoying, over acted cadence and timbre of the reader).
Book 1 can be a little tiresome: it contains, as do so many of these historical novels today, endless description of detail of daily life and personal typology. It is more a description of naval social life in the early 1800's.
However, the writer moves on apace in Book 2 and takes us into the exciting world of Frigate life on the opens sea; their crews, Captains and battles. There are no more exciting lives than those on board a frigate and no more colourful, chivalrous wars than the Napoleonic wars at sea. The author is unbiased and 'true to the logs', that repository of facts which grants such great integrity to seafaring tales.
Climactic, enjoyable, historically relevant, fair and novel: the reader patient enough to get through the early pages will be well rewarded.