Dudley Pope,
Ramage & the Rebels
(Martin Secker & Warburg, 1978; McBooks, 2001)

A whole lot happens in Ramage & the Rebels, not the least of which involves a ship full of slaughtered civilians and an island -- yes, an entire island -- that wishes to surrender to a lone British frigate.

The frigate Calypso is, of course, commanded by Capt. Nicholas Ramage, one of the youngest rising stars in the British navy. Ordered to patrol for privateers -- and, consequently, fatten his admiral's purse with prize money -- Ramage is not quite prepared for the responsibility for a whole Dutch island. The Dutch, of course, are allied with the enemy French, but in this case the colony is more immediately threatened by a large body of revolution-hungry rebels and bloodthirsty privateers.

One privateer in particular is responsible for the aforementioned slaughter -- it's a subplot that seems underused and largely unfulfilled here. And author Dudley Pope -- who is among my very favorite nautical writers -- uses a technique here that I don't like; he slips into the present tense, usually when some third party is observing Ramage and admiring his looks, bearing or skill in some way. It's a distracting style that interrupts the flow; if he's done this in previous books, I managed to overlook it.

Otherwise, Ramage & the Rebels is full of thrilling action and the usual amount of Ramage luck. Sure, no real person could ever hope to conjure the amount of lucky breaks that Ramage gets, but I can't help enjoying his unending succession of victories.

Ooh, and I think he might have a new scar now, too.

book review by
Tom Knapp

21 June 2014

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new