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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 13 April 2017
The fiction presented by Mr Nuttall is a workmanlike offering. The Royal Navy, in the tradition of, well, the Royal Navy, has this absurdly obsolete ship that is, basically, a carrier/battleship hybrid (a lá the Galactica and Dictator Class cruisers, only without the galley slaves and ram of the latter), and is the only ship which can defeat the alien menace. RIP ROARING GALACTIC SPACE WARFARE ENSUES!

The prose is solid, the characters, a bit bland, but otherwise good, the space combat is mostly good, there is refreshingly little technobabble. Alles gut. Some notes:

The RN would not call it's fighters "Spitfires". "Furies", possibly, but then you're stealing from Battlefleet Gothic. "Seafires". "Harriers", almost certainly. Personally, I'd have gone with "Vixens".

Secondly; naval officers do not attend Sandhurst. They attend Dartmouth.
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The carrier Ark Royal used to be the finest space faring ship in the royal Navy, however that was decades ago. Now, in light of more modern advancements in military technology that have made her weapons and solid-state armour obsolete, she sits anchored in Earth orbit - a joke - little more than a museum for bored children to visit, and a dumping ground for staff the Royal Navy cant be bothered to discharge, including its Captain Sir Theadore Smith - a hero in his youth, but now an embarassment and a drunkard.

Mankind is still making its first tentative steps into the unknown regions of space beyond its own solar system, discovering and colonising the first planets found capible of sustaining human life, and despite discovering hundreds of new planets, we had yet to come accross any other form of intelligent life - that is until several colonies on the very outskirts of human space go dark, followed by a massive and deadly attack on the region of space known as 'New Russia' which sees a dozen modern military carriers wiped out in minutes by a new and unknown threat with technology way in advance of anything currently possessed by Earth.

First contact has finally been made, but they are far from friendly, all efforts to communicate with them fail, and it is feared that Earth will be the next target in their sights...

Due to the combined carrier fleets of the various world powers being proven to be completely ineffectual in dealing with the alien menace, and because of the desperate general shortage in space faring craft availible in light of the slaughter in the battle of New Russia, Ark Royal is once more pressed into service with Captain Theodore Smith and his misfit crew remaining at the helm in light of the fact that no other Captain or crew - all used to more modern space craft - would be capible of understanding or handling her archaic mish-mash of outdated weapons, communications and other systems.

The future of all mankind now relies on a 70 year old ship with weapons that became ineffectual decades ago by human standards and a Captain who could very well crawl back into the bottom of a bottle of booze at any time...

I came across this series quite by accident recently having been mithered by my partner to read something else other than the books dealing with historical wars like WWII and Vietnam that I usually occupied my time with. Try some sci-fi she suggested, so reading the synopsis I decided to try some sci-fi but with a distinctly military edge to it.

Indeed author Christopher Nuttall clearly derives many of his influences from the various real life human conflicts of yester year - primarily those of WWII. Ark Royal itself is a name that has been given to half a dozen ships dating back to the 1600's, and many of the names of the other ships that feature in the book are likewise futuristic parodies of real life vessels, including Ark Royals compliment of fighters and bombers, which are known as Spitfires, hurricaines and Buccaneers respectively, and Nuttalls style of writing is very much in line with the best of traditional naval fiction, meaning that theres plenty to recognise for a crusty old history boffin like myself making his first forays into the world of science fiction.

Whilst Nuttalls characters might be considered as something of a trope of modern fiction - a Captain with a debilitating weakness, an aristocratic and ambitious executive officer, a maveric engineer capible of seemingly creating technical solutions from a pile of scrap, a young leutenant who volunteers for service on an obsolete ship despite being clearly talented enough to take her pick of deployments etc - they are nevertheless incredibly compelling to read, and I found myself caring about them almost instantly.

Likewise Nuttalls narrative is one that most will have come accross previously - Earth is threatened by a seemingly unstoppable and technologically superior foe, and has to resort to desperate measures with its last, best chance being in the hands of a bunch of rejects, misfits and embarassments - yet he still manages to meld its mix of science fiction and traditional naval combat into a story that feels like something youve never seen before despite all of its familiar componants.

As an introduction to science fiction writing I considered it excellent, so much so that I immediately bought and read the other two books of which this is the first in a trilogy, and I sincerely look forward to reading more from Christopher Nuttall in the near future.
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on 12 January 2017
Entertaining space war story. Slightly flawed main character and a near impossible conflict with aliens, what more can you ask for. Interesting focus on a future incarnation of the Royal Navy and individual earth nations in space, rather than the more common homogoneous all-nation 'federation'. But those geo-political conflicts added extra spice to the overall plot. Good action. An enjoyable read.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 20 December 2015
Rather than a book, I would tend to view Ark Royal as a product. As other reviewers have either hinted at or mentioned, the story is not exactly an original one, with its heavy doses of unstoppable aliens (except, of course, by the heroes themselves), lots of desperate, heroic but ultimately victorious space battles and all performed by and obsolete ship and a crew that was supposed to be the dregs of the Navy. Add to the formula a few ingredients to spice things up a bit, such a the fact that this is about the Royal Navy and HMS Ark Royal - “Rule Britannia” and all that sort of thing, except that it is in space, not on the seas, of course – and a phony romance with rather graphic sex scenes on board, and, bingo! You have your product. Oh, and I forgot to mention some crafty and – naturally – self-interested politicians and a scheming and very ambitious second in command who wants to be first in command.

I even found some features faintly amusing, perhaps because they are unintended. One of these has the married CAG and father of two, the Wing Commander of the Carrier’s Air Group agonising at length about his sex affair with his much younger female number 2. The fact that she happens to be his subordinate in the same chain of command is not really the main issue, at least for the author and his character. Rather, the author and his character seem to be much more obsessed with the age difference and the fact that the senior officer is married with children.

After mentioning all this, I should also state that, to paraphrase another reviewer, it ticks all the boxes and it is quite efficient in doing so despite being rather unoriginal. However predictable this book happens to be, it is also quite an exciting and an entertaining read. The carrier’s battles against impossible odds, and the Starfighters battle-scenes in particular, work quite well with a bit of a “Battle of Britain” air to them, of course.

Four stars for a good product…
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on 25 May 2017
A great series of books with plenty of substance, Good characters with their own back story and like any war a great many heroes with barely a mention. I am sure there is lot more to b explored with this collection of stories so I will have to keep my eye out.
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on 30 June 2015
The start of another series by Christoper Nuttall and to be honest I can see why he can produce them as such a rate. There is nothing in this novel that really has any substance. The only saving grace was the actual concept of the story. Too bad about how it was executed.
I don't think I will be bring myself to buy the rest of the series.
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on 3 August 2014
Whoops, I have just realised that I have reviewed the second book in this series without having done the same for this one! The only reason I can offer for this is that I found this book so good that I hurried on to acquire the second! Read the book for yourself and you will see why. A gripping and very well told story line begins to unfold....don't miss it.
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on 15 October 2016
Started this book as a holiday read. Ended up reading it before I actually managed to go on holiday! Two sittings, and I couldn't put it down. Same goes for the rest of the series. About to start book 4 this afternoon. Can't recommend enough
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on 19 July 2014
Surprisingly good and an original plot that's easy read. I started the story with trepidation. But it exceeded what I had imagined and am on volume 2. Am not sure if the faulty page order is a kindle blip or faulty editorial work but was worth the frustration to get passed it.
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on 14 August 2017
Not a bad read makes a change for best space ship & captain to be british
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