Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Victory by Stockwin Wins the Day

A Book Review
Alan Eggleston, writer and editor, business books, leisure books

Why do you read? Is it to rip through a book a day and move on to the next, or is it to lose yourself in a story with amazing characters living under incredible circumstances? For most people, I suggest, it’s the latter. And if you’re a reader like the latter, I suggest you read Victory by Julian Stockwin, his 10th novel in the rousing Thomas Kydd series.

• (Search Amazon.com for julian stockwin kydd sea adventures)

In Victory, Stockwin takes his two signature characters – and, thus, us – onto the decks of Britain’s most venerated flagship, the HMS Victory, to get to know her most famous leader, Lord Horatio Nelson, the Admiral who defeated Napoleon’s navy in the Battle at Trafalgar. We see him in the eyes of the nation who depended on Nelson for their survival, the men and officers who looked to him for inspiration and leadership, and the newly promoted frigate captain, Thomas Kydd, who looked to Nelson for mentorship. 

What you look to Stockwin for in his books is authentic description of battles, of the daily life at sea, of the language and attitudes of the men and officers in service, of what ships and seaports were like, of how people lived at the time and how they saw the world. In Victory, there is that aplenty and more. Right from the beginning there is a consequential battle whose description takes you in “living color” to the times of fighting sail. Then you’re transported to 19th century England and the life in Britain awaiting certain invasion by a menacing Napoleon whose massive and experienced army had already gathered across the English Channel. Finally, you’re swept to distant places with a British Navy pursuing a restless enemy desperate to be unleashed from blockade to gather strength for invasion, and once unleashed difficult to track despite their size. It culminates in the build up to and action in the Battle of Trafalgar, told from the eyes of a young Midshipman serving on Victory and Kydd whose frigate provides intelligence. You’ll live life at sea and in those times throughout this novel.

Much has been written about the Battle of Trafalgar. Much has been said about Lord Nelson. Be there, meet him, in the pages of Victory by Julian Stockwin.

For the sake of transparency, I’ll admit at the outset that I’m a big fan of Stockwin. I have been disappointed on occasion and have written about it in my reviews, but on the whole I find Stockwin gives great value for the money you pay for his novels. He has written that he spends 50 percent of the time he devotes to writing a story to research, which results in deep levels of authentic detail to his stories. He travels the world visiting the places in which his stories take place, where he runs into diaries, letters, and historical records, facts and artifacts from which appear as observations or intimate details in the stories.  In addition, Stockwin served in the British Navy, so he is knowledgeable about the history and traditions of British seamanship, which is a rich part of the detail of each novel.

Julian Stockwin publishes a monthly fan newsletter. In it he held a drawing for a free copy of the book for anyone willing to write a review. I was one of the lucky winners. Thus, I didn’t purchase the book for this review. However, if I hadn’t won I would have purchased it. 

Links to Victory: Commission may be paid for purchase.

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