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Kydd: Thomas Kydd 1 Paperback – 11 Oct 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (11 Oct. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340837810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340837818
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.8 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Julian Stockwin was sent at the age of fourteen to Indefatigable, a tough sea-training school. He joined the Royal Navy at fifteen before transferring to the Royal Australian Navy, where he served for eight years in the Far East, Antarctic waters and the South Seas. In Vietnam he saw active service in a carrier task force.

After leaving the Navy (rated Petty Officer), Julian practised as an educational psychologist. He lived for some time in Hong Kong, where he was commissioned into the Royal Naval Reserve. He was awarded the MBE and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He now lives in Devon with his wife Kathy.

Julian writes historical action adventure novels. He is the author of the Kydd series, the story of one man's journey from pressed man to admiral in the age of fighting sail. Fifteen books have been published to date, with another six projected, one each year. As well, he has written 'Stockwin's Maritime Miscellany', a little non-fiction tome and a historical standalone, 'The Silk Tree', set in the time of Emperor Justinian.

More information can be found on his website at

Product Description

Amazon Review

From C.S. Forester onwards, the tale of high adventure on the sea has produced some splendidly vivid writing; in fact, as genres go, there have probably been more consistently impressive creations in this field than in all historical fiction. With such a legacy looming behind him, a new author has to be able to present something special in order to make any kind of mark. 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 (always so necessary in the naval tale) at the centre of an intelligently structured narrative.

Thomas Paine Kydd is press-ganged in Guildford, and is wrenched from his safe profession of wig making to join the crew of the 98-gun line-of-battle ship Duke William. We have been treated to the horrors of the below-deck life of the common seaman before, but Stockwin renders these scenes as exuberantly as any of his predecessors. He is also particularly good at delineating the changing character of his hero, as Kydd comes to admire the skills of the seamen and (of course) becomes a true sailor himself. Although, at times, the book has the feel of the setting up of a new series, it's none the worse for that. Stockwin can command your attention with ease when his writing has such unyielding power as:

The boatswain's mate advanced, taking the cat-o-nine-tails from the bag. He took a position a full eight feet away to one side, and drew the long deadly lashes through his fingers, experimentally sweeping back to ensure that there was enough clear space to swing it. Kydd stared across the few yards of empty deck at the man's pale, helpless body. At the instant it flew downward the drumbeats stopped, so the sickening smack of the blow came loud and clear. Donelly did not cry out, but his gasp was high and choked. The nine tails not only left long bruised weals, but at every point where they landed, blood began to seep.
--Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


As an O'Brien groupie myself, I began to read suspiciously... I was soon turning over the pages almost indecently fast... Roll on, the promised adventures of Kydd and Renzi on "the legendary crack frigate Artemis". (Christina Hardyment, Independent)

Stockwin weaves a fast- paced tale that brings a whiff of the sea and gunpowder. Recommended. (Citylights)

gripping...Rich in action and full of interesting characters, this thrilling novel leaves you in awe of the 18th- century seaman. (Peterborough Evening Telegraph)

impressively full of life. I was soon turning over the pages indecently fast. (Independent Friday Review)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Big Jim TOP 100 REVIEWER on 8 Sept. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I note the age of some of the reviews on here - including one by a certain Mr Scarrow in 2001. I wonder whatever happened to him?
So if you get round to reading this review what can I add to what has gone before? Not much I have to say but I think some of the early reviews are a bit too critical of the derivativeness (is that a word?) of the book and the thinness of the characterisation. You only need to look at the star ratings of subsequent volumes to note that the series develops nicely and that the author soon fionds his stride but you have to start somewhere and you might as well start here at volume 1. Bit obvious that really but there is enough here around the admittedly interminable nautical jargon - which you can skip quite frankly - to draw you in and want to know what happens next. So as a stand alone book this has its faults but as a starting point to a series which gets better and better then it does the job
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Parm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 July 2011
Format: Paperback
The first book in a long running series this title has many of the debut title issues, the characters need a bit more work, and there is innocence to the plot that seems to be scared to move away from the standard set by others who have already ridden these waves.

But when you take all that for what it is you can see beyond to the fantastic melodic dialog, and the characters that do start to grow on you and work their way into your affections.
There is still plenty of work to do from Kydd, but having read the rest of the series and read the rest of the reviews i can tell others that Julian did learn and progress the characters, he did move away from that innocent slightly scared plotline to create his own original work, and when that was coupled with his obvious passion for the sea and all things nautical, you end up with a series that does rank up there with Forrester and O'Brian, every year i look forward to my new instalment of Kydd...but to get there you have to start at the beginning.

Well recommended

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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By on 18 Oct. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Like a previous reviewer, I found this a hard book to get into at first. In fact, I pretty much gave up after the turgid anchor raising mentioned below. But having heard Julian talk about his book at the Historical Novel Society's conference in London I thought that he was a very engaging character and he deserved another attempt at his book.
It's a difficult book to review, simply because it is such a mixed bag of inspiring moments, wonderful scene setting and impressive dialogue, on the one hand, and underdeveloped characters, irrelevant episodes and recycled events from other books. For example, both Forester and Cornwell have used the small scale invasion of the French coast before. Why couldn't Stockwin have come up with something more original?
The main difficulty with the novel is its perspective. While I was greatly looking forward to a worm's eye view of Nelson's navy, it is a viewpoint that is fraught with problems for the author. Big things rarely happen to small people. What makes Sharpe and Hornblower work for their readers is the sense in which they are bound up with significant events and have sufficient rank to act with a degree of autonomy within the rigid confines of military structures. If our hero happens to be a squaddie, or equivalent, then he can only respond to most events. I had the same difficulty with a character joining the Roman legions, and had to get round it by offering a multiple perspective across the ranks, together with a sub-plot that gave the protagonist a measure of autonomy. While Kydd's experiences on the rigging of his ship of the line are engaging, the narrative, such as it is, just floats listlessly around. What on earth was the point of the sequence dealing with the insurance scandal ship? Other than filling up a few pages.
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Format: Paperback
I came late to the books of Julian Stockwin and that I started to read his stories is because being disabled and not always able to get out myself, Maureen was the one who saw "Conquest" the quick choice shelf at Pimlico library and knowing how much I am partial to yarns of this sort she had no worries in getting it for me, in any case I read this novel and was instantly captivated by the escapades of Thomas Kydd and Nicholas Renzi.
I read two more books that was out of sequence these were "Treachery" and "The Admiral's Daughter", I made a determined effort to start again at the beginning of the series of books and so we now start with;

This the first book in a series of stories about Thomas Kydd and his friend Nicholas Renzi, and I liked it I now know who, what, why and where these two met and as this is another rollicking good yarn from one of my favourite story weavers of true boy's own adventures I was well pleased.
I really appreciated the meticulous background knowledge that Julian Stockwin gives of life at sea at the time of the Napoleonic wars and found myself transported back to the era that made the Royal Navy under the command of great seagoing heroes like Nelson great.
This story follows the life of Thomas Kydd who is against his will pressed into naval service, a much more ruthless world in contrast to his life ashore as a wig maker.

At times I did find myself paying a visit to the dictionary or the laptop to translate some of the naval slang and jargon along with some 18th century wording, but I didn't mind that as Julian wants us to be immersed into that era for a more complete adventure (I think).
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