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HMS Expedient (William Rennie 1) Paperback – 4 May 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (4 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099474174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099474173
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 412,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Following in the wake of Hornblower and Patrick O'Brian ... there is enough to satisfy the most belligerent armchair warrior: cutlasses, cannibals, as well as a hunt for buried treasure. All this plus good taut writing gets Peter Smalley's series off to a flying start' Sunday Telegraph"

"'Salute a new master of the sea. Smalley is intending to appropriate the capacious mantle of the late Patrick O'Brian and, on the strength of this book, it should prove a snug fit. Smalley has written a real page-turner, engrossing and enthralling, stuffed with memorable characters. Highly recommended.' Daily Express"

Book Description

'Salute a new master of the sea' Daily Express

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mick Nagle on 7 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
Firmly in the tradition of o'brien and forester - but a bit lightweight by comparison with either. The characters are rather one-dimensional sterotypes - oddball but brilliant captain, dashing and empathetic lieutenant, adventures that mix implausible coincidence with rather contrived intrigue. The first few chapters are positively Mills & Boon in their scene setting with sentimental placeholder relationship thrown in, presumably for the endless series of forthcoming sequels. However,you could make the similar criticism of the opening of the O'brien sequence which with its faux-Austen on-shore activities never really got going until they were far from home. Smalley has a good narrative voice, albeit one that never generates the same feeling of effortless authenticity one gets with Obrien - the action is perhaps too breathless and lacks the sense of pending terror and personal revelation that colours the day-to-day tedium of a long voyage with Aubrey and Maturin. But it's all good fun and worth perservering with to see how things develop
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. J. Garden on 3 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Let me begin by informing you that I am a great fan of Alexander Kent, Patrick O'Brien, C.S Forrester and Richard Woodman's Nelson's Navy Novels and I believe that Peter Smalley could grace their company if he can develop the characters of Rennie and Hayter throughout the typical trials of the wars with France etc. A plot summary seems difficult without giving away some of the twists and turns but generally, story is about the resurrection of the career of two men stuck on the beach at the end of the American War. It begins with the refitting of a ship in Deptford yard, a trying and corrupt process in order to make a scientific journey to the South Pacific. When on route, the ship is shadowed by a mysterious Frigate showing no colours and the intrigue begins. For any fan of the genre looking for a new source to supplement their collections I recommend giving this novel a chance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 30 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The 1st book in the series of Captain William Rennie and Lt James Hayter, both on the beach without a command, when they are unexpectedly assigned to HMS Expedient 36 guns.
However, Expedient is shrouded in mystery, not yet commissioned and seemingly not recognised by the Admiralty; similarly with their task - the shadowy Sir Robert Greer (with the authority of who-knows-what?) has given them a mission which is not to be fully explained until they enter the Pacific.
Rennie has misgivings, compounded when their surgeon turns out to be unqualified and a dwarf, only to be replaced by an incompetent ailing bigot; a 'scientist' is attached to the ship to prove the efficacy of an incomprehensible wind machine; and they are to test out a new gunpowder formula on new-styled cannon.
All this points to their mission being scientific - how wrong!
The mystery deepens when Expedient is dogged by another vessel, which defies all attempts at contact; the new guns and powder are disastrous; and the second set of secret instructions completely overturn the premise of the mission. Rennie realises that he has been duped and ill-used by Greer, kept in the dark nevertheless still not trusted to carry out the task unsupervised.
The characters are complex and take time to be completely defined, I suspect they will continue to be refined in the ensuing books, however I was thoroughly and convincingly drawn into the plot and empathised strongly with the characters. The naval terminology is accurate, as is the handling of the ship, and the language has an authentic feel to it. Conversations are punctuated by one or two well-chosen words which convey the feelings and tensions of the moment.
This is a promising start to a new series in the tradition of Aubrey/Maturin and Kydd/Renzi. ****
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Owen Dunsire on 12 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Peter Smalley has written many factual books and the ones I have read have been excellent. However, the series of books involving Captain Rennie and Lt. Hayter I feel are not in the same class. I have them all, but so far have only read two (this being the first in the series) and the stories are well written but if it is high adventure you crave from your reading this is not for you ! I feel far too much time (and words) are spent on the "Feelings" of the characters, and to be honest, unnecessarily, which detracts from the story. Perhaps now the characters are established the later books will be more adventure and less personal ( Book 5 I read is definately better).
The story concerns the two being assigned a ship "HMS EXPEDIENT" which has been laid up and requires refitting before sailing (the actions of the shore personel is accurate and highly amusing). Their task is to locate lost gold bullion despatched by the Admiralty in previous years to support American patriots fighting against Independance. The treasure ship having Mutinied and then been lost. Throughout the journey they are shadowed by another Frigate (British) and there is no good reason or real explanation given for this other than the musing of the Captain to Hayter that they are not being trusted.
Eventually, ofcourse, they recover the treasure after skirmishes with the local natives and a Volcanic eruption and return to Britain with the gold. Thrown in are some new scientific machines for testing (as cover for the trip) and that basically is the whole book !
Overall mark 7.5/10.
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