Book Report: “Under Enemy Colors” by S. Thomas Russell

September 9th, 2007 by xformed

Under Enemy Colors Cover Art

I’m not, by habit, a novel reader, but I was given a copy of “Under Enemy Colors” for review. It turned out to an engaging read, full of well written dialogs, and vivid descriptions of the action and the environment. Highly recommended for those looking for a good read about late 18th – early 19th century life and combat at sea aboard a British Navy Frigate.

Join the life of Charles Hayden, the First Lieutenant aboard HMS Themis, under the command of Captain Josiah Hart, who seems to hold his station in life due to his wife’s connections to the Admiralty, rather than by competence, yet he is somehow graced with a good reputation. Seen through the eyes of the Mr Hayden, the cast of characters are widely varied in their dispositions, but are painted in realistic manners, to fit well into the crew, disgruntled by the tyrannical reign of a captain who seem to avoid real conflict at any turn.

The book begins with the 1st Lt arriving at his new posting an finding the Captain gone and the ship not in adequate condition, where upon he sets himself to work to prepare the ship for the assigned mission to cruise French coast and harass shipping and ascertain the strength of their adversaries. Sailing into the Atlantic towards Brest, the story picks up speed, building rapidly on the characters developed during the tense days of refitting the ship. I wasn’t disappointed by the pace, and the twists and turns the author took me on, just when I thought I saw the course of the story.

I will admit I know little of the terminology of the sails and rigging of a multi-masted sailing vessel, but I suspect it is entirely accurate in the terminology and procedures used to tell the tale.

The book is not a dry accounting of  sailing an battles, but there are supporting threads of internal politics of the Royal Navy, alliances between men aboard ship, and the tugging of political strings to get things done, for good and for bad.

It appears, in the end of this book, there is certainly room for the story to continue in a serial manner, and I look forward to the next novel in the series.

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