Top critical review
on 2 April 2014
Having read all of the series, it wasn't by any means drudgery, but there were plenty of irritants. The writer puts a storyline together well, even if some bits are pinched from other writers. I can only assume that Ms Stark, while perhaps being an academic, has the regular failings of an academic in terms of spelling, punctuation and syntax. Certainly her books cannot have had an editor or the quite appalling spelling mistakes would never have made print.
Nor could she have had historical back-up. Frigates were never '64s', nor would a sloop have a post captain and four lieutenants; the prose is littered with factual horrors.
The storyline is interesting, although the rather staccato method of delivery often switches from one destination to another with nary a line about the journey between. The stories are also rather improbable and the hero and his escapades are perhaps more suited to a schoolboy's story book. The language used would never have been used in the early 19th Century as it is littered with Americanisms that a Briton would never use today, let alone in those days. A Brit would have 'dived' nor 'dove', for example. And of 'English ships', 'English sailors', with the occasional 'British', but the latter was outnumbered by the former 10-1. The Acts of Union of 1536, linking England and Wales, and of 1707 linking those two with Scotland to form Great Britain, meant that thereafter there was no 'English navy'. Indeed, most of the crews were proportionate combinations of all of those nations (others too), so that to constantly use 'English' is a regular irritant to readers from those other countries.
Looking at Ms Stark's other books, I saw one which drew on a map of England and Wales as its cover.....the 'E' of England is lodged firmly in mid-Wales. Use of the English language, therefore, historical accuracy, and geographic failings, all combine to give some reasonable light readings only two stars.