Dudley Pope,
Ramage's Trial
(Martin Secker & Warburg, 1984; McBooks, 2002)

It's a testament to the strength of Dudley Pope's writing and characterization that this book kept me reading so faithfully to the end.

Where most of Nicholas Ramage's adventures are filled with action, this one is dominated by two major plotlines: a largely unremarkable convoy from the West Indies to England, and a fairly dreary and repetitive court martial -- at which Ramage is the guest of honor -- once they arrive.

Otherwise, Ramage's Trial "twists" that include another captain's madness -- a twist that was used to Ramage's advantage in the previous novel -- and the mysterious disappearance of Ramage's new wife, which seems to be paving the way for yet another new romance in his life. Since his first great love in the series was similarly dispatched from these pages just two books ago -- just in time for Ramage to meet and fall in love with Sarah, his wife -- it seems a little soon to be doing it again. Oh, and there's an admiral who holds Ramage's fate in his hands who has an unreasonable hatred and/or jealousy for our hero, a problem that has reared its head several times in this series so far.

The denouement of all this relies on a cascade of implausible turns of fortune that seem, at best, unlikely.

So I'll say again, it's a testament to the strength of Pope's writing that I eagerly plunged through to the end of this book. The Ramage series is among my favorites in the nautical line, and I have to say this is not an especially strong chapter in his saga, and yet I still found myself enjoying the progress from beginning to end.

Still, I hope the next book offers a little more excitement and a plot that's a little more fresh.

book review by
Tom Knapp

28 May 2016

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new