This is the first title in the enthralling "Revolution at Sea" series. As the War of Independence begins in earnest, American merchant seamen prepare to strike the first blows. None strikes more deftly than Isaac Biddlecomb, captain of the Judea, whose smuggling activities are making a mockery of His Majesty's Royal Navy. Pursued by the HMS Rose, ...
This is the first title in the enthralling "Revolution at Sea" series. As the War of Independence begins in earnest, American merchant seamen prepare to strike the first blows. None strikes more deftly than Isaac Biddlecomb, captain of the Judea, whose smuggling activities are making a mockery of His Majesty's Royal Navy. Pursued by the HMS Rose, he sacrifices the ship he loved to the depths, together with the fortune he stood to gain, rather than surrender. On the run from the enraged forces of King George, Isaac disguises himself as a merchant seaman. He is reunited with Ezra Rumstick, a comrade and fierce rebel, as the revolution gathers momentum. On a brig bound for Jamaica, and now serving as a lowly mate, fate tests Isaac's mettle as he is captured by the enemy and faces a life of servitude under the deranged captain and sadistic crew of the HMS Icarus...
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-01-08 The American Revolution has been well covered in fiction, but almost entirely as a land war-much as the War of 1812 has been treated virtually only as a naval war. By Force of Arms is the first book of a new series that will address the former shortcoming by following the career of Isaac Biddlecomb, a merchant seaman who has risen from the forecastle to the command of a vessel at the opening of the story. Biddlecomb isn't a natural-born hero at home in a hail of grape in the tradition of Hornblower or Aubrey. He is an ordinary American living in an extraordinary time, and Nelson, who has sailed aboard the modern reconstruction of the Revolutionary-period frigate H.M.S. Rose, makes clever use of this device to explain issues of the war and man-of-war life to the reader in unobtrusive fashion. Nelson's seagoing experience is evident in his clear, convincing description of the sailing. His dialogue, however, lacks the period feel of O'Brian and Forester-several times denizens of both the quarterdeck and the forecastle indicate assent with "Okay," which didn't degrade the vernacular for another century. Biddlecomb's sidekick is Ezra Rumstick, part-time patriot, part-time smuggler, full-time friend, and his nemesis is Captain James Wallace, the thoroughly professional commander of the Rose. The characters are strong and realistic, the plot and action believable and brisk, if none too complex, and readers will care enough about Biddlecomb's welfare to reach for Nelson's second installment. On the whole, an engaging start to what promises to be a fine adventure series in a neglected milieu. (Feb.)
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