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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine continuation of the series
Peter Smalley does not rest on his laurels in this latest, the fifth, in the Hayter/Rennie series. He has created a readable, interesting tale: characters we care about, a compelling story, lots of action and a window on history. James Hayter, haunted by doubts about his leadership ability and beset by tragedy at home, resigns his commission in the Royal Navy, a step he...
Published on 4 Jan 2010 by P. Keene

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Acceptable but not outstanding
To be honest I'm not the biggest fan of a lot of the more modern Historical Fictions so when this tale landed I put it off for a while until I felt that I had very little choice other than to get on with it. That said however, I did get through it pretty quick and whilst I didn't think it was the best example of the Sea-Faring Fiction that's out there (you'll have a...
Published on 19 Oct 2009 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine continuation of the series, 4 Jan 2010
By 
P. Keene "Pipester" (Durham, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5) (Hardcover)
Peter Smalley does not rest on his laurels in this latest, the fifth, in the Hayter/Rennie series. He has created a readable, interesting tale: characters we care about, a compelling story, lots of action and a window on history. James Hayter, haunted by doubts about his leadership ability and beset by tragedy at home, resigns his commission in the Royal Navy, a step he soon comes to regret. He is recruited by the shadowy agency that has already touched his life and he finds a new calling, one that gives him an opportunity to collaborate with mentor and friend, Captain William Rennie. As France reels from the Terror, Hayter and Rennie find themselves embroiled in a scheme to foil the worst excesses of the revolution. Their masters resolutely keep them in the dark and they chafe at being pawns in a game whose rules they don't understand. Nothing is straightforward in their mission and, faced with betrayal, they wind up in a desperate fight for their lives.

Smalley does a fine job of weaving his fictional narrative into the fabric of history (although he does advance the first use of the guillotine by almost a year.) To say more risks spoiling the story for new readers. Even if much of the plot is driven by events ashore, Smalley makes sure that there is plenty of shipboard action: sailing evolutions, repairs, storms, gunnery, boat actions, single- and multiple-ship actions as well as the small daily dramas that swirl around a captain at sea. These passages are the heart of historic naval fiction, and Smalley excels at them. It is aboard the Expedient that the reader finds many of the wonderful minor characters introduced in earlier books.

Hayter and Rennie make a memorable pair. While each may become impatient with the other's shortcomings, their friendship is built on genuine regard and they are fiercely loyal one to the other. Hayter is impetuous, given to following his heart without thought for the consequences. Rennie is a no-nonsense sea officer, plain-spoken in his desire for everything to be well-ordered and above board. He can be downcast on land, but he comes gloriously into his own when commanding men on the deck of a ship. There are several occasions when one man might well not have survived but for the unique gifts of his friend.

The well-developed plot and characters are complemented by Smalley's writing. The action passages are compelling and the interior monologues powerful without being unduly long. The impersonal narrative voice sometimes coalesces into an ironic comment, but is never intrusive. Smalley's dialog is masterfully done. He avoids one-size-fits-all Eighteenth Centurian (as my wife says) speech; instead, each character's speech is uniquely his or her own. Smalley is very aware, for instance, that a well-placed "Ah" can be more revealing than a paragraph of maundering. His trick of telegraphing unspoken thoughts next to speech is very effective.

The Gathering Storm is a worthy addition to a worthy series. Thank you Mister Smalley -- I look forward to the next book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding naval series in the best traditions of Hornblower, Aubrey and Maturin., 7 Aug 2009
By 
Nicholas Peacock MA (ConnahsQuay, Flintshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5) (Hardcover)
With each new book in this splendid series I begin to realise we are witnessing the creation of yet another fine and resolute fictional naval adventure set around the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Mr. Smalley is taking up the mantle left by the late Patrick O'Brian. His books are wonderful to read and I hope there will be many more to come.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Acceptable but not outstanding, 19 Oct 2009
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5) (Hardcover)
To be honest I'm not the biggest fan of a lot of the more modern Historical Fictions so when this tale landed I put it off for a while until I felt that I had very little choice other than to get on with it. That said however, I did get through it pretty quick and whilst I didn't think it was the best example of the Sea-Faring Fiction that's out there (you'll have a tough job getting past O'Brian) it was acceptable and did do what the book promised.

The characters were individuals and whilst each sought out their own goals it did feel that at times they were hard pressed to have reason's for doing some of the things that they did. It is a reasonable book, it was readable but its not one that makes you sit up and pay attention and, if you'll pardon the pun, is a title that will slip through the waves, to sit calmly on the shelves waiting to grab a passerby.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very surprised, 17 Jan 2011
By 
Mr. M. G. Stevens "Everytimereferee" (Swansea, Wales) - See all my reviews
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Thoroughly enjoyed this novel which was good because I bought it by mistake: damn you kindle store interface!!

Seriously good read though I like Smalley's developing style the sparsity of his descriptions and the florid period language really work for me.

let's be honest at points the plot is very silly but never less than engaging, that said the beginning is terrific and tremendously bleak and Smalley is never afraid of investigating his characters frailties and shortcomings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best yet., 28 Dec 2010
By 
A. J. Watson "Bones" (Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
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Newly-appointed Captain James Hayter returns home to find his son at death's door - the inevitable happens. His wife on the brink of madness and himself torn by inner doubts on his ability to command, force him to reject his new commission, even when exhorted by his friend Rennie.
Rennie meanwhile is back on Expedient, refitting for another nebulous commission with the all-too-familiar feel of the Secret Service Fund's hand at the tiller. A suave, not to say louche new man at the Fund replaces the repellent and failing Greer, presenting Hayter with Hobson's choice - become a spy or never sail again; Rennie with another secret 'survey'; and alienating the marvellously prickly Port Admiral (cf Trevor Howard as Captain Bligh) into the bargain.
The new man Mappin proves just as duplicitous, if not quite as odious as Greer, when it turns out that all our brave heroes' efforts were in vain, at great cost in men, ships, and integrity.
Hayter is let off the hook again, as his rampant hormones get him into another, quickly extinguished, extra-marital affair.
Both Hayter and Rennie's inventiveness, leadership and seamanship are tested to the limits against insuperable odds in this edge-of-the-seat action tale, while the political machinations leave us wondering exactly what the devil is going on ...
All this is story-telling at its best; a deep, intelligent, intricate storyline, creating believably solid characters with concise use of language - would that I could write this well! *****
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smalley sails on., 5 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5) (Hardcover)
Smalley creates a continuing sense of live history whilst the character of his players grows deeper and their relationship stronger.He is becoming to O'Brian what O'Brian was to Forester.I thought O'Brian unsurpassable now I am not so sure.Thoroughly recommended,a strong storyline and an enjoyable cast.Highly adventurous but far more than just an adventure.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A warning concerning style, 20 April 2010
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This review is from: The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5) (Hardcover)
I do not mean for this to be such a negative review - more of a warning to those considering buying it.

The plot is good and very intriguing - any fan of Forester or O'Brien is sure to love the historical setting and accuracy - but Mr Smalley's style completely lets this down. The characters are unfortunately very one-dimensional and there is little exploration into them. Furthermore, there is far too much exposition - for example, he directly reveals the cause of the main character's internal daemons, almost as an aside, in the first chapter, rather than perhaps hinting at it and letting the suspense build up around what could possibly be troubling him so.

I accept that not every book has to be a character study and that there is a place for an action-adventure romp, but even these books have to be readable, perhaps even more so. It is the writing that truly lets this story down. Here is an example from chapter 1 (no real spoliers):

"He is going to die." Flatly.
"Nay, I have not said so."
"But that is what you mean, ain't it, Doctor?"
"While ever there is life there is hope." Sincerely.
"Damnation to pieties! Tell me the truth." His voice cracking.

And this is how it continues throughout the book, particularly, but not exclusively, around the dialogue - it appears as though Mr Smalley is giving stage directions rather than giving the reader something about the characters' intonation. I am well aware that this may be an attempt to write in a new, stylistic way - and there is nothing wrong with trying something new - but it still has to be readable. This work jumps around from line to line in small, snappy sentences that just aren't easy to read. I am no fan of overly-long drawn-out sentences, but this just gets silly. It just stutters along and the reader is never able to build up a flow of breath. It feels a little like watching a jumpy DVD.

I take umbrage with the Daily Express calling this "storytelling at its best". Story crafting, perhaps, but certainly not storytelling. But if you care not for the short, snappy style and enjoy naval fiction then this might be for you. But you might want to see if you can find this book in a bookshop and have a glance at a few pages before buying it.

Anyway, I'm now off to read some Sabatini and recommend that you do as well!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars books of peter smalley, 20 Feb 2010
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This review is from: The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5) (Hardcover)
pretty good enjoyed it will be waiting for the next one to come out Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5)
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The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5)
The Gathering Storm (William Rennie 5) by Peter Smalley (Hardcover - 2 July 2009)
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