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on 21 June 2014
Unfortunately I found this to be the weakest of the three Ark Royal stories. The writing is still up to Mr Nuttall's high standards, but I could not find myself engaging with the plot as much as in the previous two books.

Saying that it is a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy, and ties up all the plot threads nicely.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 September 2014
"The Trafalgar Gambit is the third in a space opera series set on an obsolete space carrier which suddenly finds herself at the cutting edge of an unexpected and hard-fought war against a previously unknown alien threat.

The series to date consists of

1) "Ark Royal
2) "The Nelson Touch (Ark Royal)" and
3) This book, "The Trafalgar Gambit."
4) "Warspite"

In the backstory to the series all the major nations of earth, and most of the minor ones, had built space fleets and acquired colonies. For decades mankind has gradually expanded through space without ever finding alien life, or becoming politically unified. An uneasy balance of power has prevented the outbreak of a major war but the threat of such a war has caused most of the nations of earth to maintain starfleets based around starfighter carriers. With the result that humanity is not entirely helpless when an alien race, whose existence had not previously been discovered, announced that existence by attacking several colonies on the edge of human space.

Nevertheless it soon becomes evident that humanity's situation is desperate, as the aliens seem completely unwilling or unable to respond to diplomatic peace initiatives and their military technology is in some ways superior to mankind's and well adapted to dealing with earth's existing modern fleets.

In desperation, Britain's admiralty activated the Royal Navy's oldest spaceship, the carrier HMS Ark Royal, which had been built decades before at a time when it was expected that such ships would need thick armour and rather different weapons systems, which they hope the alien warships may not be well configured to deal with ...

In the first book Ark Royal and a crew of charcters whose development the author describes were at the cutting edge of the first desperate defence of human space, and then, in the second book, served as flagship for an international task force which carried out the first deep penetration into alien space to learn more about the enemy - whether there is any way to negotiate peace with them, and if not whether they have any weaknesses which might enable mankind to defeat them.

This third book starts after "Ark Royal" has arrived home to find that during their absence an alien raiding force did huge damage to Earth, killing millions of people and reducing billions to the most desperate straits. The crew have a short time to repair and turn round the ship for her third and mission - on which may depend the survival of the human race and possibly the aliens too ...

OK, this isn't Niven and Pournelle but it isn't rubbish either. Worth a try if you like naval and military SF with some imagination and a bit of a difference.
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on 9 July 2014
I have now read all three books in the Ark Royal series and overall enjoyed them. However I feel that this latest book only rates three stars. The story is developing fine it is just that I feel a little de javu about the story in that this is yet another trip into alien space.
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on 5 October 2014
Good finish to good series, enjoyed the read although I found that in this book there was a strange coyness to most of the characters when faced with nudity or bad manners etc. Not the futuristic society I imagined that would exist if it stemmed from ours at all. The plot moved slowly, and reached pace in the required places, but all in all was very predictable. Loved the final chapters though, but did find that some of the actual stuff about appearing in various planetry systems was lacking in certain facts to accomadate the story.. IE: If someone appears several light minutes away you cannot see them immediately.. Space battles would be fought much more on the lines of high velocity intercepts, and incredible timing, not like old galleons at sea used to do it. All in all, a pretty good story in 3 books that kept me amused for a few days, and of course it was about the British Navy. Four Stars.
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on 5 October 2014
I have now read the entire trilogy, and at the end of each book I am never left disappointed. The story progresses at a comfortable pace with a strong storyline, I wish there was an Ark Royal IV but for the sake of spoilers, I'll be quiet. Worth about 10 times what I paid for it, you must buy this if you have read the previous two, if not then stop reading this and buy the first two!!!! The trilogy has taken me about half a year to complete, the best value six months of reading I've possibly ever had. I have recommended this to my friends, who all enjoyed it almost as much as I did, and you certainly will too. There are some inappropriate scenes, and as such I wouldn't suggest buying it for anyone under 11 if you haven't read and approved it yourself. BUY IT NOW!!
Jimbo
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on 4 February 2015
This is book 3 in a series of 3, which has now been expanded to be a series of 6. It is a conclusion to the action that has happened in the previous 2 books, and the following 3 are set a little in the future of these events, so are really another series set in the same universe. As such it is a fitting conclusion, and provides a satisfactory ending.
I've got to say that I really enjoyed these books, and read them straight through, one book after the other, as they were gripping and yet easy reading. The conclusion was not any kind of cop-out, and the characters had life and so I felt sympathy for them.
I've read loads of SF in my 50 years of reading, including many classics both in and out of SF, and this series falls into the very enjoyable Space Opera category. A good book to read if you are not looking for deep philosophy, style, character analysis, or social comment, but are looking for clear action (plenty of it) and storyline, with sufficient depth of cast and plot detail to add reality.
Others here have described the events that take place, so I won't add to that, but would like to say that the author, Christopher Nuttall, needs to be given a contract for printing real books that can be bought by everyone, from bookshops, libraries, and newsagents. On the strength of this series, he would sell a lot, and I will be following his career (and checking out his other SF books).
Top class Space Opera!
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on 14 July 2014
What can I say. I have not been able to put this series of books down. It has kept me wanting to read it through to the bitter end. Superb trilogy well worth reading
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 April 2016
This is the third and last volume of the Ark Royal series. I would agree that it may not be the best out of the three, if only because the climax is somewhat predictable. As others have also noted, there is a sense of “dejà vu” as the author uses similar ploys once again and perhaps “overdoes” the melodramatic at times.

Having mentioned all this, the recipe still works by and large and the book packs quite a lot of punch all the same despite a number of clichés. Among these, perhaps the less realistic are the romantic intrigues taking place on board the Ark Royal. Also perhaps a bit tiresome at times are the melodramatic repetitions about the extremely short life expectancies of Starfighter pilots under war conditions. Despite all this, the story is exciting and the space battles are simply great, especially the last one which, of course, would end in final victory but at a heavy price.

There are nevertheless also a number of original features in this title. One is the rather interesting relationship between the humans (or rather the human captives) and the so-called “Tadpoles”. A related feature is that these, just like the humans, are divided into factions and one of these, unsurprisingly, wants to wipe out the humans. Another interesting feature is that you get to learn why they want to do so, with the original reason of the war being a mixture of fear and dramatic misunderstanding.

Another set of features is that some of the humans are also set for an all-out war to exterminate “the Aliens” and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. You may find that the country assigned the role of the “nasties” borders on the caricature. To be fair, however, the reason for such extremism is that it is also the country that has lost the most and been the most weakened by the war, in relative terms at least. So it’s refusal of anything like a negotiated settlement and anything less than total victory and extermination of the enemy is both about payback and about gambling to recover lost power, territory and populations now living under occupation on planets that used to belong to this country.

A somewhat generous and indulgent four stars, because I liked it, despite all my rants…
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on 8 October 2015
Oh dear! What a dreary third book in the series. Most unsatisfying in storyline yet replete with the same old 'rolling of eyes' and 'clearing of throats as the others. This time much 'snorting' has been added to the vocabulary of clichés. Apart from that, I just wish that the aliens had killed the crew even earlier and spared the misery!
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on 23 January 2015
I had read the previous two books in the series and enjoyed them both. When I was contemplating buying this (third and final) book I was put off by the poor reviews that it had been given by others. However I eventually bought it as I wanted to find out how the series ended.
What was unexpected were the romantic scenes which must have taken up nearly a quarter of the pages. This looked like padding as the author appeared to have run out of ideas. The other aspect that destroyed the book for me was the very clear anti royalist sentiment that was present throughout.
The action scenes also looked rather like repeats of scenes from the previous books, again perhaps Christopher had run out of ideas.
I did read through to the end and decided two stars was the best I could award.
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