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HMS Expedient (William Rennie 1) [Paperback]

Peter Smalley
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 May 2006 William Rennie 1

1786: Captain William Rennie is on the beach and on half pay when he's given a prime commission: HMS Expedient is a 36 gun frigate; she is to be sent to the South Seas on a scientific expedition.

For Lieutenant James Hayter, in Dorsetshire, whose career had barely begun when the peace came, his own commission in Expedient out of the blue is equally surprising and exciting.

But for these two sea officers there is something odd and disturbing about the nature of their task. They sense that they are not being told the whole truth about the forthcoming expedition, and the shady, powerful figure of Sir Robert Greer is always at their backs. Is someone trying to sabotage their mission? Why is their progress dogged by a mysterious man of war? And what are the secret orders locked in Rennie's cabin which may only be opened once they round the Cape of Good Horn?

The answers lies on a beautiful uncharted island, in the remotest corner of the Pacific immensity, to which the storm-battered Expedient limps for desperately needed repairs. Soon the dangers of the voyage will pale in comparison with what they discover there, across the limpid waters of the lagoon...

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HMS Expedient (William Rennie 1) + Barbary Coast (William Rennie 3) + The Hawk (William Rennie 4)
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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: 2.7 x 13.1 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,259 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A promising start 3 Jun 2005
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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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shows promise - must do better... 7 Aug 2006
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Promising start to a new series. 30 Nov 2010
By A. J. Watson VINE VOICE
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Secret Mission ? 12 Dec 2009
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars No Patrick O'Brian
This was an OK story, even if the captain deserved to have his neck wrung, but I wonder how much the author knows about the Pacific islands. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Gerald B. Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Having read all of Peter Smalley's book I bought this book, along with others, for my Son who also has an interest in this era of sail. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mike S
5.0 out of 5 stars Audio download superb
I had not read any Peter Smalley previously, but have a general interest in nautical tales. Recuperating from an injury I was looking for some "easy listening" audio books to... Read more
Published 24 months ago by R. W. Polkinghorne
1.0 out of 5 stars Just awful
The whole William Rennie series is just an awful travesty. The characters are poorly realised, unrealistic and their motivations just confusing. Read more
Published on 29 Sep 2010 by Ian Bernard
3.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointing Start
Mr. Smalley exhibits a style as easy to read as anything by C.S.Forester or Alexander Kent, and much easier than that of O'Brian : his plot starts off at a good pace and... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2010 by R. Stone
3.0 out of 5 stars ... another star on the naval fiction horizon?
HMS Expedient
Liked the use of speech idioms of the period.
Well researched with regard to ship handling and gunnery. Read more
Published on 15 Mar 2009 by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointment
It is a pity that Mr Smalley spoiled a reasonable story with so much violence and bad language. It would have made a good series but I am sorry to say that it is not for me. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 2007 by G. M. Smith
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