Monday, March 25, 2019

The Iberian Flame: Roiling Recount of Britain's Battle to Save Iberia

Book Review: The Iberian Flame by Julian Stockwin
Version: Author provided hardcover

We learn a lot from reading historical fiction. The better the research, the more we can learn. No historical fiction is better researched -- and written -- than Julian Stockwin's Thomas Kidd series. The 20th in the series is The Iberian Flame. It's the amazing story of Napoleon's attempt to take Spain by tricking the Spanish royalty out of power and finishing its taking of Portugal from an earlier invasion. Standing in Napoleon's way is the British Navy, with the assistance of the British Army, subverting the French who overplay their hand.

As always, Stockwin blends the real people of the time with fictional characters to fill out an intriguing story, including the host of series characters we have come to enjoy in the other books. You look forward to their reappearing from story to story, well defined and given important roles in tightly written plots that tell the real story but also give insights into those very trying times in British history when Napoleon posed an existential threat to the island nation and when it was the British Navy that ruled the seas to protect king and country, nation and people.

No detail is left unconsidered in telling the story, which shows Stockwin's meticulous research, bringing the reader ever closer to understanding the lives of everyday seamen and extraordinary leaders, not to mention the nefarious rulers and the people who enabled them in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Every read is a page burner, engrossing you in the tale so that you don't want to put the book down, and The Iberian Flame continues this trend. Captain Sir Thomas Kydd finds himself under the command of a failing but controlling admiral who does everything in his power to push Kydd to the back of the action, yet Kydd continually finds himself in the middle, aiding the Portuguese and Spain and the cause of Britain. There is plenty of naval action for the most ardent age-of-sail reader, a mainstay of the Kydd novel. For the reader who likes a little romance mixed in, The Iberian Flame begins with Kydd returning home to his beloved Persephone, but it doesn't take long for international intrigue to enter the picture and Kydd to be sent off to sea. There really is something for everyone in this book!

I will warn that this story is slightly more than 400 pages long. It may seem a bit lengthy. But it's quality length. And the maps at the front are well done and help aid in visualizing the name locations in the story. If you are tempted to buy the ebook, investing a bit more in hardcover is well worth it, especially if you're a collector.