Dewey Lambdin,
The King's Commission
(Fawcett, 1991)

The war with the fledgling United States may be drawing to a close, but Alan Lewrie is keeping busy.

He begins the book as a midshipman, still aboard HMS Desperate and fresh from the British losses at Yorktown. Soon, however, he has the opportunity to take the test for lieutenant, which he passes, and he is shortly moving on to a new position. Sure, the Shrike is a small and far-from-imposing vessel, but Lewrie will serve as her first -- and only -- lieutenant, giving this reluctant naval officer a whole new level of responsibility. Her master and commander, Lt. Lilycrop, is an unknown quantity, although it's clear he likes cats (the ship is full of them) and his record suggests he is shy of battle.

Much of the book is devoted to a mission among the Native Americans, seeking allies against both the American rebels and the Spanish, who still hold the southern colonies. Don't worry, there's also plenty of action at sea, including an early mission commanded by the young Commodore Horatio Nelson.

And, as is Lewrie's wont, there is ample bawdiness, too. By book's end, he will have an angry girlfriend and a slighted lover in Jamaica, as well as a live-in mistress on Antigua and a Muskogee bride in western Florida.

Through it all, Lewrie remains an interesting character who is ultimately more likable -- and far luckier -- than he deserves to be. I discovered this series fairly late in the game, but I'm glad I've found it. I plan to keep reading.

book review by
Tom Knapp

21 February 2015

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