Julian Stockwin,
Kydd #3: Seaflower
(Scribner, 2003; McBooks, 2008)

Tom Kydd's life in the British navy keeps getting more complicated.

Beginning with a court martial that goes awry, Kydd and his shipmates from the Artemis find themselves being shipped off to the Caribbean on the elderly ship Trajan -- simply for knowing too much about the officer who stands accused (and is fairly obviously guilty) of wrecking the far-famed frigate on a reef. Once in the Caribbean, Kydd becomes involved in the British effort to deprive France of valuable island colonies, and the British sailors become soldiers in an invasion that goes unbelievably well -- until it goes incredibly badly.

A hasty and ill-planned escape leaves Kydd and his best mate Renzi separated and ashore on different islands, each assuming despised landsmen's jobs -- at which they naturally excel -- until berths on the small but swift vessel Seaflower come their way.

And that's not all.

Sure, Kydd continues to be just a little too good at everything he tries. Yes, women from every walk of life fall in love with him a little too quickly. Certainly, he gets out of scrapes a bit too easily and a few too many coincidences. And there's no question that things happen a little faster than they should, sweeping over the details to get onto the next adventure.

And yes, some details are lacking, and maybe there are a few miscalculations over time and distance, and certainly author Julian Stockwin salts his dialogue with too much unexplained jargon.

But despite the book's flaws, I can't help liking Tom Kydd. This former wig-maker, pressed into service, is a unique voice and an entertaining focus in Stockwin's series, and I enjoy following his adventures. Fans of British naval fiction should certainly check this series out.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

20 March 2010

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