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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 February 2014
This self-published space opera 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 reads as though it was always intended to be the start of a series.

At the end the author asked his readers whether they wanted a sequel and the answer was presumably yes: two more e-books in the series have now come out and are called respectively "The Nelson Touch (Ark Royal)" and "The Trafalgar Gambit (Ark Royal Book 3)."

In the story all the major nations of earth, and most of the minor ones, have 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 activate 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 ...

I agree with those reviewers who have suggested that this book could have used the services of a good professional editor: there are some silly continuity errors and the writing style is OK but not brilliant. Most of the characters are reasonably well drawn, there are a few cliches in the plot and characterisation but not too many and the author does a reasonable job of keeping the story going and making you try to guess what will happen next.

Worth a try if you like naval and military SF with some imagination and a bit of a difference.
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on 15 March 2014
Ark Royal is the first novel by Christopher Nuttall that I've read, it was listed under my Amazon recommendations and the blurb and artwork looked and sounded interesting and truth be told a fair price for a not too large a novel. The story of humanities first interaction with an alien species has the potential for an epic story but in Ark Royal it's pretty much the filler as we concentrate on the very outdated British Navy carrier Ark Royal and it's crew as they become the only viable asset in the war with this unknown race. The idea of nation states still existing as mankind spreads amongst the stars is a weak point but Christopher himself admits it's unlikely us Brits we would be doing that sort of thing but this idea does have it's place in setting the framework for the politics and personal ambitions that are covered in the story.
I enjoyed reading the book, the politics were kept to a minimum as were the personal relationships which could have bogged down this fairly fast paced story, some very nice descriptive space battles and no problems visualising them either which never hurts when reading a scifi tale. Ark Royal is well worth the price if for no other reason than to see if the story telling and style suits, it does for me and I will be buying more of his work.
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on 15 February 2014
This is about an old Starship (mainly designed to carry small highly agile spacecraft into battle, but also armed with heavy weapons of its own) which is made obsolescent by changes in military fashion rather than effectiveness. The Ark Royal has been kept in commission only by a pressure group and its famous name. When a genuine hostile alien race at long last appears, newer more fashionable Human starships fare very badly, and the First Space Lord is forced to gamble on the Ark Royal being less vulnerable.

Overall, it's a very good story of its kind, and without resorting to very detailed tactical explanations in the manner of Jack Campbell, Mr Nuttal manages to convince the reader of why the Ark could win its battles.

However, a few quibbles must be raised:
The space-faring Royal Navy is portrayed as running entirely dry ships; something the sea-going Royal Navy never did. In fact, one of the first systematic scientific trials ever conducted, was carried out by the Royal Navy to discover if cider would prevent scurvy whilst being more storable than fresh fruit juice. The conclusion was that cider does prevent scurvy if you drink enough, but that sailors tended to drink more than enough of it, so perhaps lime juice was a safer bet. Rum was even issued daily by the Royal Navy until the early seventies (and in the Ghurka Rifles it still is!) and beer can be purchased from the onboard NAAFI according to a daily ration, until the ship is actually at combat readiness. This is in order to prevent precisely the kind of home-brewing which the crew of the space-faring Ark Royal are forced to resort to.

Some of the language used is American and not English; the Royal Navy uses the word "arse" instead of ass and uses it pretty freely.

The space-fighter carried is named "Spitfire" after the famous propellor fighter. Spitfires worked very well from land bases, but the seaborne version (there was one) gave the pilot no view of the deck ahead at all during launch and recovery. The Seafire was not loved by Fleet Air Arm pilots. The famous Royal Navy fighters were the Grunham "Martlet" and the Hawker Sea Fury (a propellor fighter famous for shooting down at least one Mig15 jet), followed by the Westland Wyvern, the Supermarine Scimitar and the Hawker Sidderley Sea Vixen, a variant of the MDC Phantom with Spey Turbofans to give a much better rate of climb than the USN version, and of course the Sea Harrier. The Martlet performed well during the battle of Crete, the contemporary Brewster Buffalo performed terribly badly at Crete and in Singapore. Sea Hurricanes were mostly used from improvised escort carriers. "Scimitar" "Vixen" or "Wyvern" would have been more likely Admiralty choices for a space fighter, "Fury" already having been baggsied by "Bablyon Five."

The author has ended up with a blank line after EVERY paragraph and this is one of the things which the guidance to publishing on Kindle advises against, with some reason.

The novel ends with Mr Nuttal asking if it's worth a sequel: yes, but see above.
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on 15 December 2015
I gave up after the first chapter. The writing style is amateurish and sometimes cringe-worthy. Amazon should give a clear warning when books are self-published. It serves me right for not reading the reviews properly.
5 people found this helpful
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on 17 February 2014
I enjoyed this read very much. I will be honest I was dubious at first as I was expecting it to be similar to one or two TV shows or books however Mr Nuttall delivered an excellent book without all the normal clichés. his attention to detail is fantastic especially where the characters are concerned and they are very real and likeable. There are no super humans as the main characters just good old fallible humans. There is also very little if any techno babble. I often find that authors concentrate so much on offering an explanation as to how something works that it detracts from the story. In this case the story is smooth flowing and exciting. I cannot wait to read more. As yet I have not read a book I have disliked from this author, including ones which are outside my normal genre of choice. This was like reading/watching some of those good old honest naval warfare films and had the intensity of something like Das Boot. Please do continue with this Ark Royal series Mr Nuttall.
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on 15 February 2014
Having read the preview I could tell that this was a promising book and indeed I wasn't disappointed at all. With so many science fiction novels about it is hard to find one that has been decently written and with a good plot line combined unless you stick with the big authors who gained the reputation through traditional books, with the the vast majority being about empires in some form or another.

The book itself has good narrative which interestingly enough has been told from the perspective from four different characters a formula that rarely works unless used by one of the big dogs. The characters have been fleshed out properly and the background science behind the fiction behind the book believable, with the political situations entirely too believable giving the book strength.

On another note I don't believe I have found another science fiction book that have a British crew and ship making this book a unique, well written and thoroughly enjoyable book that I thoroughly reccomend
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on 9 March 2014
There are more than a few tenuous links between this novel and the film Battleship which also features a majestic but obsolete vessel repelling invaders when more modern technology fails. Having said that it is as original as any novel can be and Nuttall has developed both the characters and scenario to present a gripping read which had me turning the pages.

The plot is about an old but very heavily over-engineered space carrier turning out to be Humanity's only chance against apparently technologically superior but very unfriendly invaders. Nuttall avoids a lot of cliches which can spoil modern sf with the exception of a few "Americanisms" which can be forgiven in such a good book. I had one major disappointment. There is currently no sequel. Highly recommended action novel set in the near future.
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on 12 February 2014
I admit I was torn between giving 4 or 5 stars. I finally settled on 4, not to indicate that I didn't enjoy the book fully but to hint at the development potential. The story is well written and entertaining and it's obvious that a lot of TLC went into writing this book. You shouldn't judge a book by its cover but that the author went through the trouble of giving us a grandstand view of the mighty starship says something! However, there are a few occasions where an editor would have been helpful. While plot, characters and dialogue are all well crafted, the setting itself could benefit from a bit more descriptive flair. The author certainly doesn't over-explain (which is the ruin of any good story) but there is not enough detail shared about what it feels like to be on the carrier, space or foreign planets. Sometimes I got the impression of being on a roughly edged stage set rather than the real thing. A bit of grit and grime would help the reader getting more absorbed in the universe. Having said that, it is still a very good read, up top on the list of self-published work. The universe it is set in is realistic, the characters believable, and the focus on the Royal Navy rather than the US Navy makes a refreshing change. The aliens definitely feel alien and are no cardboard cutouts. There are the odd references to science fiction folklore in the story which will make you smile, if you're in the know. I do hope to read more of Captain Smith and his intrepid crew. A fair wind and following seas for 'The Mighty Ark'!
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on 5 May 2015
This book has an interesting story but its not that well written. The basic pretence of the book is also poor. basically that an obsolete ship is effective against the alien invaders when the modern ones aren't and all get wiped out (very similar to Battlestar Galactica). however the reasoning behind it is rubbish frankly, the old ship is said to be 'no match for the new ones' yet its better against the aliens because the new ships aren't armoured and the old ship is. It also has more powerful weapons. The only explanation for its obsolescence is that its slower. Why does an obsolete ship have better armour and weapons? there is no real logic to this.

Anyway, that glaring plot hole aside, the battle scenes are very short and lack detail and the rest of it is long winded and the balance makes it quite a dull read, despite being a good story.

Its decidedly average overall.
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on 18 February 2014
I'm enjoying Ark Royal as I've enjoyed others of Christopher's books. Some may be aimed to appeal to the American reader, after all they have the monopoly on saving the world, but at least his books accept that other nations might just add something to the mix.

Two linked criticisms, if I may. The first is, please get yourself a professional editor. Or if you have one, please get another one. Too many silly little slip-ups. At the beginning of Ark Royal Penny becomes Polly in one sentence. An obvious typo from her mother's name Molly.

The second is something a decent editor would have picked up. The word 'scowled'. Come on Christopher, there are other facial expressions. In one of your books you used the word seven times in an hour of reading time. It gets very irritating and can spoil a very good story.

Other than that, an entertaining read. I shall read more with my scowl-filter on.
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