Friday, February 4, 2011

Review: Battle Fleet - Paul Dowswell

Synopsis: Having escaped certain death in Australia, Sam Witchall is at last bound for home. But his frightening adventures at sea are hardly over. On the journey back to England he faces pirates, a terrible storm, and an ever-increasing desire to be done with the life of a sailor. Back home in England, however, Sam realizes how much the sea has become part of him. So when he hears that Napoleon plans to attack England, he is determined to join the Navy again. As midshipman on none other than the HMS Victory, Sam must now prepare for one of the most epic battles in history: Trafalgar.

Review: What a terrific ending to this trilogy! To end with the Battle of Trafalgar - the death of Lord Nelson - was perfect. And all of the events leading up to it were just as entertaining. Encounters with natives, smallpox, and a storm that is blessedly short in narration. The one thing I dread the most in sea-faring stories - aside from lubberly writing - is the inevitable storm scene. True, every sea-faring story does need a storm - spend months at sea, and you will run into a storm. But Authors so often drag these scenes out to an excruciating length, and they simply don't know when to stop. Drives me up a wall. Paul Dowswell has two storms in Battle Fleet, and I didn't dread them.

All in all, Battle Fleet was very good - maybe my favorite out of the three. As far as I could tell, Paul Dowswell's writing is not lubberly - he seems to have a good understanding of seamanship. I was impressed with his battle sequences - not too crowded, written in a sort of aerial perspective (focusing on the whole of the fight rather than what is happening around the narrator), and just enough blood without being too gory. A few times it did almost extend into being too meaty, but overall Paul Dowswell did not waste time describing the carnage in medical-book detail.

I think Readers will find the close of Adventures of a Young Sailor series satisfying. It could possibly have the potential of having a sequel, but I really do hope that Paul Dowswell doesn't write one. For a trilogy like this, it needs to end where it is clear that more happens in Sam Witchall's life - a lot more, but like real life, it will always go on, and the Reader doesn't need to know everything that befalls him.

Overall Rating: 

Others in the Adventures of a Young Sailor Series:
1)Powder Monkey
2)Prison Ship
3)Battle Fleet

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