Alexander Kent,
Band of Brothers
(Heinemann, 2005; McBooks, 2006)

Band of Brothers is a filler novel, written late in Alexander Kent's long-running Bolitho series but falling third in chronological order. At least one major development makes me wonder why it was so late in coming.

It's 1974, and Richard Bolitho and fellow midshipman Martyn Dancer are testing for lieutenant. They also have a mission, basically sailing the new ship Hotspur from point A to point B, that has unexpected complications. A lot happens in this relatively short tale.

As a novel, Brothers is not a very good stand-alone chapter in Bolitho's life. It is very short, and the story is poorly developed. Action is choppy and lacks needed detail. You sometimes wonder if Kent had gotten to a point in his outline when he simply decided he was done with it and sent it along to his publisher unfinished.

But it remains an important turning point for Bolitho. Fortunately for readers, it has been packaged along with prior novels Richard Bolitho, Midshipman and Midshipman Bolitho & the Avenger in a single book, The Complete Midshipman Bolitho. As part of the larger package, you have less of a sense of being shortchanged on the final volume. And it leaves readers in a good position to begin exploring Bolitho's career as an officer in His Majesty's Navy.

review by
Tom Knapp

1 May 2010

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