It's remarkable how quickly the interest in colourful naval adventure has grown in recent years. Foremost among able practitioners is Julian Stockwin and his new book, Artemis
, builds on the solid achievements of the much-acclaimed Kydd
; here again is the same flinty characterisation, stunning narrative skills and (most of all) considerable imaginative skill in evoking the wind-lashed atmosphere of the best nautical novels: full of sharp detail and keenly evoked atmosphere.
It's the great age of fighting sail, when the seven seas are stalking grounds for prey and prize money. Aboard the crack frigate HMS Artemis, life can be invigorating--and short. Now a fully fledged Jack Tar, Stockwin's doughty hero Kydd returns to Portsmouth and a hero's welcome after cutting a bloody swathe through French ships. But urgent family matters force him to return to Guildford where he finds himself less able to cope than he was at sea. Soon, land-bound life is chafing him, and Kydd is happily back on the Artemis setting out for the Far East, and encounters with some lethal opponents. After a grim encounter with slavers, Kydd finds himself facing his own mortality in the waters of the Great Southern Ocean. Stockwin's particular ability (among so many) is his fastidious evocation of life aboard a sailing ship and the tensions that exist between the men locked into this dangerous life. The dialogue may take a little getting used to, but it's quickly apparent that this is one of the author's key strengths: this, you feel, is how these men really spoke. Most of all, though, it's the exhilarating recreation of the sailing life and its attendant dangers that keeps the reader transfixed.--Barry Forshaw
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Praise for KYDD: 'I was soon turning over the pages almost indecently fast... Roll on, the promised adventures of Kydd and Renzi.' Gripping...Rich in action and full of interesting characters, this thrilling novel leaves you in awe of the 18th-century seaman. With Kydd, Julian Stockwin quickly signals that he is an innovative and accomplished fresh talent in the field, with a complex and richly drawn hero at the centre of an intelligently structured narrative. Stockwin paints a vivid picture of life aboard the mighty ship-of-the-line... the harsh naval discipline, the rancid food, and the skill of the common sailor are all skilfully evoked. The vantage point of the common sailor gives the nautical novel a fresh twist. In Stockwin's hands the sea story will continue to entrance readers across the world.
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