Man of War
It’s June of 1755 and war is once again brewing between the English and the French. For some, however, the fight has already begun. Somewhere in the North Atlantic, approximately twenty nautical miles off the coast of Newfoundland, the British naval vessel HMS Boudica is engaged in a furious battle against a ship of French pirates. There’s death and destruction on both sides, culminating in the scuttling of the French ship but also in the death of Captain Berrington, skipper of the Boudica.
The unexpected death of the captain leads to a battlefield promotion for Lieutenant Dane Merrick, although that’s not the most surprising outcome the battle will have for him. When the newly appointed Captain Merrick and a party of his men move to secure the French vessel, they easily capture the remaining crew members and discover that they have a number of hostages aboard, two women and a young boy, survivors of the missing English ship the Queen Bess. Just in time, Merrick learns that there is another woman being kept chained in the ship’s hold. He’s able to rescue her and return safely to the Boudica, but in the heat of the moment, he makes a rash promise to help her gain vengeance…
T.J. London’s Man of War is a thrilling historical adventure story from the get-go. Starting with the initial naval battle between the Boudica and the pirates and then continuing throughout the book, London has packed plenty of action and intrigue into an intricately plotted tale of political maneuvering, personal suffering, and world-changing events. The story whizzes along at breakneck speed as lies and double-crosses are revealed at every turn and Merrick realizes just how deep the conspiracy he has found himself in runs.
Yet, despite being a tale of derring-do, Man of War is very much grounded in reality. The characters and the main events of the story are fictional, but London has clearly dedicated a great deal of time to researching the era, both the significant events of the period and the way that ordinary people (in admittedly extraordinary times) would have lived. From the plans of the vessel included at the start of the book through to the detail of life aboard ship and the recreation of New York City during the 1750s, everything rings true. It can be difficult to strike a balance between scene-setting and storyline in historical fiction, but London has done a great job of making the book a historically accurate and still hugely exciting read.
The central characters are very believable, too. Captain Merrick desperately wants to be a hero, so much so in fact that he somehow fails to notice just how heroic he really is. He had no desire to be a warrior, but he was pressganged into the navy and finally found his place in life aboard the Boudica. He may have risen to become the ship’s (possibly temporary) captain, but he’s not viewed as a gentleman. There are secrets in his past as well as a family disgrace that he would do anything to overcome. That’s the main reason he agrees to help secure vengeance for Lady Caroline (or India, as she wants to be known), a woman who has a fair number of secrets herself. They have both suffered great wrongs, but they might just be able to find solace together.
Man of War is a sometimes bloody and violent tale of jealousy and vengeance, but it is also a story of loyalty and honor. It’s an exciting and entertaining book with an intriguing plot packed with twists and turns. Readers looking for further action-packed naval adventures could go on to read the first three books in London’s Rebels and Redcoats Saga, which Man of War serves as a prequel to.
|Page Count||643 pages|
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