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on 6 April 2017
I am an avid reader of naval fiction (Alexander Kent, Dudley Pope and Julian Stockwin being my `solid friends`) so it was with some trepidation I decided to try the John Pearce series by David Donache. Book one started off just a little dismally and I thought that I am not going to be impressed with this author and his character. Suddenly, mid-way through the novel something clicked. I then couldnt put it down and by the time I finished reading it, I was already downloading the second book.
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on 3 August 2017
A decent enough tale but it failed to really grip me. In the future I may read the next book in the series but I know that there are better books available on Amazon.
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on 26 August 2017
A good seafaring book .not the best but very good
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on 29 June 2017
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on 30 August 2017
New author,enjoyed, Will buy more.
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on 27 August 2017
Should be sold as a "girly book" rubbish
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on 17 October 2004
This is a technically well written and interesting view into the life of an impressed sailor in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. As "a window to the times", it is extremely valuable and the character portrayal and development is very good. Though it is, at times, too "introspective", this can be forgiven as the action scenes and sub-plots are well presented. What cannot be forgiven is the author's fixation with the evil and cowardly brutely winning out over the good and brave as the final outcome. If you tend to identify with a novel's hero, you may be left feeling somewhat downtrodden, depressed and uninspired as you finish this book.
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on 3 November 2009
This was a great read. I loved the introspection of Pearce. It didn't hinder with the pace either. It is this introspection that gave Pearce character depth and made you care about his fate, the Pelicans' and also that of his father. He isn't just a 2D action-hero and even the supporting characters are well constructed. As for the books accuracy, I actually liked that it wasn't too detailed in a nautical sense. I've read books of a similar genre and some authors are so preoccupied with showing how much research has been done that it just gets tedious. I find it dull when writers explain at great lengths how a ship works. It's lost on readers like me who are only really interested in knowing the basics, enough to give a sense of realism. For those with a good knowledge of ships I know it must be difficult to deal with inaccuracies, but if you want fact read a non-fiction book. If you want a really well written story with memorable characters, Donachie's your man. This book is great!
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VINE VOICEon 5 May 2015
First there was Hornblower by C.S. Forester - Napoleonic naval fiction from an officer's point of view.
Then there were the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O'Brian - including the new ship's surgeon as a reason to explain the way that the British navy functioned at the time. Long serving crew members have decent characterisation, but this is still resolutely from the officer's point of view,
For the first time (to my knowledge), David Donachie gives us naval fiction from the point of view of an ordinary seaman (although he does devote equal time to the inner world and problems of the vessel's captain).
By following the fortunes of a group of landsmen press-ganged from a London tavern, Donachie has an excuse to explain take a reader new to naval fiction through the functioning of a naval vessel, as these new sailors quite literally "learn the ropes". It amused me to find I was two thirds of the way through the novel and the ship had not even left harbour!
That does not mean that the story lacked either adventure or conflict, and I appreciated the greater depth of characterisation and attention to motivation.
I felt that the author had a political agenda in wishing to draw attention to the monstrous injustice that ripped hundreds of men, quite illegally, away from their lives and families, and subjected then to a life of hardship and harsh discipline, in order for Britain to fight a war against a country that had just had a revolution whose rationale was to improve the lot of men like themselves. The choice of John Pearce, radical, as lead character not only provided a mouthpiece for these sentiments, but his backstory acknowledged the fact that the Revolutionary France was enduring a reign of terror, far from the promised socialist utopia.

In this, and in other characters (such as Michael, the huge, fighting Irishman who is far from stupid, or the personality of the scared new 'middie') Donachie seems to be deliberately subverting tropes of this genre.

It was refreshing to see the ordinary seamen treated as more than just ciphers, with a focus on life "before the mast". Yet by choosing to follow Pearce - a gentleman on the run from the law for political reasons, and hence unable to extricate himself from the press - rather than a seaman of humbler origins, Donachie betrays his socialist manifesto: apparently only persons of breeding and education have sufficient initiative and character to carry a story after all!! (I don't mind the social commentary, even if at times it was a little heavy-handed, but its slightly patronising tone, in its portrayal of 'ordinary people' made it quite clear that this is the type of socialism that believes that 'someone ought to speak up for the working classes' because they are (apparently) incapable of speaking for themselves...)

But maybe I am being churlish - the hero is likeable, the adventure exciting, and the characters plausible, so it is perfectly possible to shrug off the subtext and simply enjoy the story.
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on 15 July 2013
Most naval fiction books set around this time are written from the viewpoint of the officers. There is a mixture of both here at the same time (unlike the Kidd series which tells of Kidd's progress from seaman to officer). A fallible captain and a somewhat 'boys own' hero in the main character make an odd scenario and some aspects of the story do not fit comfortably with naval life of the time (as I understand it). However it's fiction so it doesn't matter much at all. The storyline is good and, once used to the author's style, quite enthralling. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. If you enjoy Stockwin's Kidd series and Kent's Bolitho series you'll like this one.
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