20.5.13

KYDD, by Julian Stockwin

1/series. Oh, goody, Patrick O’Brien has a worthy successor. In this brutally accurate debut novel set in 1793, young wig-maker Thomas Paine Kydd is caught by a press gang (essentially kidnapped by the British Navy) and hauled aboard a British warship. It is the day of giant three-masted fighting vessels, of unexpected encounters with enemy warships, with the blood and chaos of broadsides, of hand-to-hand fighting. No internal combustion engines, no GPS, no band-aids, no radios, no waterproof clothing, no stainless steel mess halls.  The life is brutal, flogging expected, death waits at every turn. A far cry from the gentle, civilized life Kydd had led. The author’s long career in the navy, plus impeccable research, brings us a chillingly accurate portrayal of the rough, dangerous and casually brutal life of a sailor aboard a ship-of-the-line. I can hardly wait to read the next one! A 5.