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Floating Gold: Under Admiralty Orders - The Oliver Quintrell Series - Book 1 Kindle Edition
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A nautical treasure that is, and a hunt that kept my attention from the first page to the last.
For writers of nautical fiction set in the Napoleonic period, the hiatus brought about by the `Peace of Amiens' offers a challenge. Ships were laid up or de-commissioned, officers and men found themselves unemployed. Not very much was happening at sea to keep the Royal Navy busy. Or was it?
So it was gratifying to stumble across Floating Gold, by Margaret Muir, I suspect an accomplished sailor as she has an excellent grasp of seamanship and, it must be said, an accomplished writer to boot. Born of a personal experience and a footnote from a news item, Muir has created a well-crafted and plausible tale of adventure on board one of HM's frigates, Elusive. An aptly named vessel, for an elusive treasure.
Oliver Quintrell, a young Post Captain on half-pay, is given command of a 38-gun frigate and secret orders. He learns his ultimate destination only when the ship is far from England. He does not learn the nature of the treasure until he reaches the destination noted in his secret orders and even then, it is less than obvious.
The ship and the crew deal with a succession of challenges, from the weather, to pirates, to murderers, all plotted superbly. Once returned to England, Quintrell's trials do not cease, as the author keeps the interest running as high as the seas to very nearly the final page.
Floating Gold is excellent story-telling. The principal characters are visual, immediately empathetic and human. This is an intelligent, well-structured and thoroughly enjoyable story, which for enthusiasts of nautical fiction is highly recommended.
The catch: The British government is desperately in need of money to finance this new war.
Enter Captain Oliver Quintrell, living comfortably on prize money, but eager for another command. His wishes are granted when he is given the frigate Elusive.
The catch: His secret mission is to sail into icy waters far south of Cape Horn, in search of a rumored treasure. If he succeeds, the British treasury will be saved. The price of failure is awful beyond reckoning . . .
It has recently become a popular ploy for authors who have obtained reversion of rights (and, hopefully, the pdf, as well) to re-publish their books with one of the many presses that have sprung up to meet the demand.
Margaret Muir's historical maritime adventure, Floating Gold, originally published by Robert Hale, has been given a fresh breath of life in this way -- and, in this case, most worthily so. Re-designed and re-issued in paperback (with the author's name cropped to the genderless "M C Muir"), this Hornblower-style novel is replete with maritime detail: it is obvious that Muir knows her ropes, and is comfortable with shiphandling, even under brooding skies. Ports are given good treatment, too. Her descriptions of Deception Island, the strange and ominous island in the sub-Antarctic where the Elusive finds a most unusual anchorage, are evocative and intriguing. And the story fairly romps along.
Her characters are convincing, too. Though just 32 years old, Captain Oliver Quintrell talks and acts like a man in his fifties -- which is exactly right for his era, when men aged much earlier. The "idlers" -- the tradesmen of the ship, like "Chips" the carpenter and "Bungs" the cooper -- stand out particularly well, being drawn with humanity and humor. And then there is the young apprentice shipwright, Will Ethridge, plucked from the sea like a piece of flotsam, destined to play an important role in the drama to come.
A most enjoyable read. I look forward to more from Muir's pen.
Oliver Quintrell is given a secret mission aboard the British frigate Elusive during the fragile Peace of Amiens. The premise is very plausible. Secret missions were not uncommon then and I was reminded of Captain James Cook's undercover assignment more than 30 years earlier, to look for a lost continent believed to exist in the Southern Ocean.
In this novel of intrigue and adventure Margaret Muir maintains tension while developing her charcters; specifically Captain Quintrell and young Will Ethridge, from whose viewpoints the story is told. I was caught up with the characters and kept reading to find out what they were looking for and if they would succeed.
The historical maritime setting is superbly portrayed. The author has spent some time aboard historic ships and writes with easy authority. Aficionadi of naval fiction as well as readers of general historical fiction will find a good story here.
Looking forward to reading more by this author!
Linda Collison, author of Barbados Bound (Patricia McPherson Nautical Adventure) and SURGEON'S MATE: Book Two of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series
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