Julian Stockwin,
Thomas Kydd #12: Conquest
(Hodder & Stoughton/McBooks, 2011)

Fresh from victory at Trafalgar, Captain Tom Kydd sails with a small fleet to invade and conquer Africa!

Well, no, not the entire Dark Continent. But the mission is to assume control over Cape Town, at the southern tip of Africa, to expand the British empire and provide a convenient stopping point along the East Indies trade route. Of course, the Dutch whose colony it is -- and the French, who are allied with the Dutch and are equally eager to hold onto Napoleon's vast empire -- aren't going to let it go easily.

Kydd, in command of the 32-gun frigate L'Aurore, will of course play a major role in the conquest, which is beset from the start with mishaps. And perhaps readers will find the number of coincidences that save his or his comrade's skin -- from extremely cooperative weather patterns to an unlikely bit of timing during a proposed execution -- a little too convenient.

But the book is entertaining, the action exciting, and Kydd -- who has fallen out of my good graces in recent books -- is back at peak form. Even his best chum, Nicholas Renzi, has become a little less annoying, and that's saying something. In his new role as a chief policymaker for the colony, he'll have a great deal of influence over the course of coming events.

Oh, and Kydd has a new lady friend.

All in all, Conquest is a strong book in the series. Julian Stockwin, now on his 12th volume, has done our Kydd proud.

book review by
Tom Knapp

19 April 2014

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