Caribbee

B1875

It really does not seem like fourteen years since Stockwin wrote Kydd, the first book in his series of Kydd and Renzi tales. Then, Kydd was a young Guilford wigmaker who was taken by the press gang to serve as a sailor in the Royal Navy. The basic idea behind the stories was unique, featuring two young men from very different backgrounds who came together as tie mates. Previously, all of the great fictional stories set in the naval world of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars featured a hero who began as a Midshipman and rose through the Commissioned ranks to Post Captain or Admiral.

Forrester, Kent, Pope, O’Brian all wrote outstanding tales around their Commissioned heroes and entertained generations, prompting films based on their writing. From an unique starting point, Stockwin has become another member of the band of naval fiction writers who have achieved the highest standards of story telling. This latest story in the series is yet another compulsive page turner that will sell very well, attract new readers, and reward loyal fans.

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NAME: Caribbee
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 121013
FILE: R1875
AUTHOR: Julian Stockwin
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 351
PRICE: £18.99
GENRE: Fiction
SUBJECT: Commerce raiders, Caribbee, Caribbean, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Porto de la Marina, privateers, Guadeloupe, Windward Islands, Napoleonic Wars, Thomas Kydd, Nicolas Renzi
ISBN: 978-1-444-71204-9
IMAGE: B1875.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/k8j3nrl
LINKS: http://tinyurl.com/o8rgtq6
DESCRIPTION: It really does not seem like fourteen years since Stockwin wrote Kydd, the first book in his series of Kydd and Renzi tales. Then, Kydd was a young Guilford wigmaker who was taken by the press gang to serve as a sailor in the Royal Navy. The basic idea behind the stories was unique, featuring two young men from very different backgrounds who came together as tie mates. Previously, all of the great fictional stories set in the naval world of the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars featured a hero who began as a Midshipman and rose through the Commissioned ranks to Post Captain or Admiral.

Forrester, Kent, Pope, O’Brian all wrote outstanding tales around their Commissioned heroes and entertained generations, prompting films based on their writing. From an unique starting point, Stockwin has become another member of the band of naval fiction writers who have achieved the highest standards of story telling. This latest story in the series is yet another compulsive page turner that will sell very well, attract new readers, and reward loyal fans.

In this tale, Kydd is now a Post Captain in command of a light frigate L’Aurore with his old friend Renzi still at his side as Captain’s Secretary, a retired naval officer striving to become an author. In this tale Renzi is again playing the spy and the ship and her people have reached the Caribbean after their adventures in South America with the expedition to liberate Spanish colonies. Kydd has been sent to the Caribbean to plead for reinforcements to enable the success of the expedition. Fate takes a different hand and our heroes are plunged into a new set of adventures with highs and lows worthy of Stockwin’s style and earlier books.

This is the third book to follow Victory, where our heroes took part in the Battle of Trafalgar. This is another novelty of Stockwin’s setting for the Kydd and Renzi tales. In starting the story with a wig maker pressed into the brutality of a line of battleship, Stockwin could draw on his own experiences of starting as a boy seaman and working through the ranks before receiving a Commission. Having taken a starting point early in the wars with France and the French Revolutionaries, the natural destination of the series would be with Trafalgar and require some ingenuity to position the heroes close to Nelson in a credible way. For most writers, that Trafalgar experience would have been the last part of the story. For other writers, is has been. A similar challenge faced the creator of Rifleman Sharpe who could have terminated his career when the French were driven out of Spain and Portugal, Napoleon seized and sent into exile, the French Monarchy returned to power. The only other possibility was for Sharpe to return at Waterloo. It is interesting that Sharpe also rose from common soldier to senior officer and that his creator found a new story line beyond Waterloo and his creator developed stories beyond the Napoleon Wars and into the Dash for Empire.

For the Royal Navy, Trafalgar was the major victory, for the Army there was Waterloo when they finally brought Napoleon to account and cemented the great naval victory ten years earlier that really set Napoleon on the path to ultimate failure. The victory at sea and the victory on land were so iconic that fiction and non-fiction writers have sadly neglected the period beyond them until the British Empire was at its height and a new enemy had been found in the German desire to expand and dominate in Europe. This is perhaps understandable, but it is a great pity. Through the Nineteenth Century, Britain was expanding rapidly and colouring the world map in red, building an Empire the like of which had never before been seen. This expansion was driven by the pioneering development of industrial society and the unchallenged power of the Royal Navy to protect the lines of commercial communication that circled the World across the seas. This period contained many actions and adventures where British sailors continued to perform beyond any reasonable expectations in the spirit that we regard as Nelson’s Fighting Spirit.

In Caribbee, Stockwin has set his tale in a period of naval history that laid foundations that set history in the Twentieth Century. From relatively small actions, much is achieved. Little has been written about this period and in recording its own history, the United States has been unduly kind to its founding fathers. Much is made of the US Constitution and in 2013 President Obama has made much of what he calls the World’s Oldest Constitutional Democracy, ignoring the fact that Negro emancipation was not achieved until the 1960s, Native Americans are still largely contained in the inhospitable and worthless lands their genocide survivors were driven into during the late Nineteenth Century. The fine words of the US Constitution applied to a very small elite. That elite comprised a large number of slave owners and very dubious businessmen who were very happy to deny those who created their wealth the full benefits and protection of a fine Constitutional document. In this Kydd and Renzi tale, Stockwin has identified the roots of the War of 1812.

The US had begun its own industrial revolution that was to lead to war between the industrial North and the agricultural South. The US traders had need to reach European markets just as urgently did the British traders and planters of the Caribbean. In attempting to block British goods, Napoleon also ended up in a failed policy and the blocking of US goods. That contributed to the increasing tensions where the US attempted to invade Canada and was bloodily repulsed by Canadians and Loyalists who had escaped from the southern colonies that had broken away to form the US.

Having returned Kydd and Renzi to the Caribbee where they last visited as common seamen, Stockwin has re-introduced some characters from their past. At the end of the latest exciting instalment of the Kydd series, L’Aurore is ordered to sail for England. The suggestion is that this is connected to the Court Marshal of Commodore Popham, following the failure of his South American venture. Kydd would naturally be required as a witness, but the next instalment may well see a very different motive and involve an entirely different part of the World. As this latest tale demonstrates, there is considerable potential mileage in the career of the two heroes. Will Renzi finally marry Kydd’s sister? Will his father change his mind and make Renzi his heir? When will Kydd acquire his Broad Pennant? With almost six years to the War of 1812, and a host of other colonial possibilities, Kydd has time in hand to achieve his Flag. The only certainty is that Caribbee will win new readers and that they will then want to buy copies of all the earlier stories in the series.

There will now be the traditional eager wait for the next book and, between now and then, a paperback edition will be published and Kydd will sail into the new waters of electronic publishing. Those who have not yet done so will enjoy a visit to the BigJules weblog where Stockwin publishes some very interesting material on the times of Kydd and matters nautical.

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