Balkan Glory, A Thomas Kydd Novel

Another best seller from the master of the Napoleonic War/Royal Navy genre. This Kydd and Renzi story covers the largely ignored Royal Navy triumph in preventing Napoleon using the Balkan land bridge to reach India to destroy the British Empire. Most Highly Recommended

NAME:  Balkan Glory, A Thomas Kydd Novel
FILE: R3311
AUTHOR: Julian Stockwin
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton, Hachette
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £20.00                                                 
GENRE: Fiction
SUBJECT:   Adriatic, 'French Lake', Italy, Dalmatia, Balkans, Indian Land Route, 
Royal Navy, Sir Thomas Kydd, Lord Farndon, Count Metternich, Austria, sea 
convoys, convoy escorts, line-of-battle ships, frigates, frigate squadron

ISBN: 987-1-473-69876-5

PAGES: 401, Balkans map, dramatis personae, glossary, author's note setting the 
Kydd story against the real events it is based on
IMAGE: B3311.jpg
DESCRIPTION: Another best seller from the master of the Napoleonic War/Royal 
Navy genre. This Kydd and Renzi story covers the largely ignored Royal Navy 
triumph in preventing Napoleon using the Balkan land bridge to reach India to 
destroy the British Empire.  Most Highly Recommended

A reviewer can approach a new story in a long running best seller series with a degree of trepidation. When Julian Stockwin combined his naval experience with a deep interest in the Royal Navy of Nelson he thought there might be ten stories in his hero’s career from wig maker, to pressed man, to Petty Officer, to Commissioned Officer. This to a degree followed his own career as a boy seaman on a tough Training Ship to Royal Navy Rating to Petty Officer in the Royal Australian Navy and completing his naval career as a Commander in the RN Reserve in Hong Kong. The first story ‘Kydd’ was a best seller and the start of a regular routine of detailed research on location, writing the story, publication and on to the next adventure. Here we are with story number 23 and ‘Balkan Glory is as free and original and story number 1, ‘Kydd’.

For those who have never before read a Kydd story, it will be rewarding to enjoy this tale. and then buy the stories that went before. It will also be rewarding to acquire copies of Stockwin’s stand alone books which used some of the research for Kydd tales to produce some quite original work. These books have been published by other publishers but there are reviews in the FIRE Project on-line database that can be found by entering the author’s name in the search box at the top right of the home page.

There are but a handful of best selling authors of the genre, beginning with Forrester and his hero Hornblower. Julian Stockwin is now firmly seated in this band of Napoleonic War naval fiction authors, but he is also quite unique. Hornblower set a pattern where the hero was an Officer who began his stories as a Midshipman. Stockwin has broken this box and we benefit from the freedom that has given him to take his stories way beyond the Battle of Trafalgar and into the hidden period where the Royal Navy continued to fight and win major victories that ultimately defeated Napoleon.

Admiral Lord Nelson was that unlikely super hero who had lost an arm and eye in his earlier battles but established a tradition of always winning, and winning big. He was a slight man who was way larger than life and his story has created a host of myths, so powerful that most will be forgiven for thinking the Royal Navy won the Napoleonic Wars in 1805 at Trafalgar but Napoleon didn’t get the memo and kept stumbling around Europe with his armies until 1814 and then tried a comeback in 1815. Of course the Nelson story had all the props of a major movie, with Trafalgar as the climax, where the hero died in the moment of his greatest triumph on a ship named Victory.

Any writer of naval fiction set in the period gets to Trafalgar, or the eve of battle, and dries up. This is in any case always the threat to an author, when he or she has written up to ten books around the hero, and it is not just those writing naval fiction. Even Christie and Conan Doyle faced that point and tried to kill off their heroes before searching for a new subject. Sometimes the readers demand a new story although the result is not always in the same stamp as the previous books. Part of this is because authors get bored, or just run out of new ideas to take the story line on. Fortunately Stockwin has managed to punch through the Trafalgar barrier.

This new story is set in the Balkans and Adriatic. It is the point where Britain really does stand alone with even Sweden and Austria leaving the company of allies and with only Wellington beginning the battles in Iberia that will eventually see him marching into France with Napoleon forced to surrender. After Trafalgar all attention of historians and writers of fiction moves from the Royal Navy to the Army under Wellington in the Peninsula Wars. However, the Royal Navy was to continuing hard fighting and would win a series of major campaigns that formed part of the Dash for Empire and Final Victory.

Once more Kydd is joined by his tie mate Renzi who is now Lord Farndon and a special representative of the British leaders in government. Kydd is allowed his broad pennant and a squadron of four frigates with supporting vessels to raise hell in the ‘French Lake’ in the midst of an enemy with no friendly port closer than Sicily and Malta.

There is the Stockwin roller coaster ride of triumphs and reverses and the play of court life against a life in a wooden warship. Once more a page turner that will keep the reader engrossed to the last page.

This story is based on the untold Royal Navy triumph of a Commodore and frigate squadron that sailed into the Adriatic, set up a secret base, punished the French convoys and prevented Napoleon sending a large army down the Dalmatian coast road, through Ottoman territory and Persia, into India to cut Britain off from its essential Far Eastern trade, without which bankruptcy and surrender would have been the most likely options. By blocking Napoleon’s plan, the Royal Navy forced him to focus on Russia and that was to be his downfall, much as the Battle of Britain was in a later age to force Hitler to refocus on invasion of Russia with the same ultimate consequences.