Seth Hunter,
Nathan Peake #2: The Tide of War
(Headline, 2009; McBooks, 2010)

The sequel to The Time of Terror puts protagonist Nathan Peake back where he belongs: on a ship.

While the first book in the series by Seth Hunter (a.k.a. Paul Bryers) took place primarily on mainland France in the early days of the French Revolution, The Tide of War sends him back to sea. He sails from England on his old command, the Speedwell, to the Caribbean, where he is to find and assume command of the Unicorn, a frigate of 32 guns, stationed in Havana but currently missing -- and lacking a captain, since the last man to hold that office was found off the coast of Florida with his throat cut.

Peake is also ordered to find the French frigate Virginie and put an end to its depredations in the West Indies. A slave rebellion might stand in his way.

My only real criticism is the abrupt change in tone during a climactic battle. The serious nature of the book very suddenly becomes comical, even slapsticky, and a bit of potty humor the author goes to great pains to set up is left unresolved -- apparently forgotten.

Otherwise, The Tide of War is a strong, action-packed tale with good character-building and a journeyman's knowledge of an officer's life in the British navy circa 1794. Nathan Peake is a likable fellow who -- while perhaps not as brilliant as Hornblower or as daring as Aubrey -- makes for pleasant, oft-times exciting reading. A third book in the series awaits me, and I hope there's more to follow.

book review by
Tom Knapp

8 June 2013

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