Invasion

R1557
October is the month when loyal readers of the Kydd and Renzi
tales look forward to the publication of the next instalment in this
absorbing naval yarn. October 2009 is an important point in the
story.
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NAME: Invasion                          

CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
FILE: R1557
Date: 021009
AUTHOR: Julian Stockwin
PUBLISHER: Hodder and Stoughton
BINDING: Hard back
PAGES: 346
PRICE: GB £18.99
GENRE: Fiction
SUBJECT: Georgian Navy, Royal Navy, wooden walls, Nelson, Napoleonic
Wars, Revolutionary Wars, ships, technology, social history, Kydd,
naval museums, ship museums, Renzi, Robert Fulton, Nautilus, submarines
ISBN: 978-0-340-96115-5
IMAGE: B1557
LINKS: http://tinyurl.com/
DESCRIPTION: October is the month when loyal readers of the Kydd and
Renzi tales look forward to the publication of the next instalment
in this absorbing naval yarn. October 2009 is an important point in
the story. Stockwin achieves one million words in print with the
tenth instalment of the epic journey of Thomas Kydd from wig maker to
Royal Navy officer. It is also important because loyal readers will
know that originally Stockwin only intended to write nine or ten books
following his two fictional heroes Kydd and Renzi. In his Author's
Note, he acknowledges that there will now be many more of these
instalments to come. At the present rate of one per year, he hopes to
write at least a further ten books in the series. In common with most
authors, Stockwin approached his first book “Kydd” with some
trepidation. He had his own naval experience of boy seaman to commander
to guide him through the career of Thomas Kydd. He introduced a
second character, Renzi, as a foil to Kydd and to add depth to this
first tale of a young man seized by the press gang and thrown into
the harsh life of a novice seaman aboard a man of war. Stockwin already
had the rough outlines for a series of tales, but he was embarking on
his own voyage of discovery. Each year he and his wife visited new
locations to thoroughly research for the next tale. That research
meant that it would be very difficult to write more than one book
each year, but it provided a level of authenticity that has built an
international following and required the books to be translated into
many languages, including Japanese. Invasion takes us only to the
installation of Napoleon as Emperor of France and the strongest threat
of invasion of the British Isles. As with each new story, Stockwin
has based it around something novel without losing the established
rhythm of the Kydd and Renzi tales. As with each previous installment,
depth is added to the characters that are central to the story. Renzi
is now almost as key to the unfolding tale as Kydd is. It is easy to
understand why the period of British naval history during the
Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars is very popular with readers. There
is a romance and majesty that sets against hardship and cruelty.
Although the Royal Navy may have come of age half a century earlier,
stamping its global authority during the Seven Years War, the battle
with what became Napoleonic France firmly established the British
Empire. Naturally an important period of British history, it has an
international dimension because it shaped the history of the world
and was extraordinary because the tiny collection of islands off the
European coast produced a will and ability to stand alone against
great odds. It is also understandable that the naval novel has become
such a popular genre. Forester began the process with the stories of
Hornblower. Many other authors followed in his footsteps and all were
influenced by the real-life career of that extraordinary and colourful
British naval officer Thomas Cochrane who in one year alone captured
a hundred enemy ships as a frigate captain and went on to play a key
role in the wars of independence in South America. It could be said
that Cochrane's career was more colourful and extraordinary than the
fiction careers that he inspired. However, there have been two authors
who have plotted a different path within this genre, O'Brian and
Stockwin. Each of these two authors share factors but follow unique
paths. In common they base their stories on a pair of characters and
they provide through research a real flavour of the times in which
their stories are set. The death of O'Brian brought to an end his best
selling stories but O'Brian readers will be relieved to find that
Stockwin is there to fill the gap. Those who have read both authors
will appreciate their individuality and the greater depth of
appreciation gained from reading both. Where Stockwin is in a class
of his own is that each of his stories takes something unusual as the
real kernel of the tale. In Invasion, the kernel is the development
of submarines. By featuring the American inventor Robert Fulton and
his Nautilus in this latest story a new slant has been given to the
genre. What is often overlooked is that this was the time when
submarines, aviation, poison gas and many other new technologies were
being tried out for the first time. The industrial revolution had
begun and the start of urbanisation was bringing social change. The
navy of Nelson may look quaint and historic today, but it was at the
fore front of technology, prototyping many of the innovations that
have changed life two centuries later. Stockwin does not neglect
these important aspects. Those who have read previous Kydd and Renzi
tales will need no introduction to Invasion because it follows the
established pattern of an absorbing tale with twists and turns, highs
and lows as the two heroes cope with what fate throws at them. For
those who have never read a Kydd and Renzi story, this is a real
treat and not to be missed, but be warned, if you pick up this new
book you will not want to put it down until the last page and you will
then want to go out and collect all the previous stories to enjoy the
saga of Thomas Kydd and his friend Renzi.

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