March 30, 2004
King's Coat

Over the weekend, I finished another book.

The King's Coat - Dewey Lambdin

I am a huge fan of the C. S. Forrester series on Horatio Hornblower. I tried reading Patrick O'Brien's books on the Age of Sail, but I don't like his style.

Last holiday season, I was wandering in the book store looking for gifts when I spied a book with an obvious nautical theme. I looked it over and saw that it was the latest novel by Lambdin in his Alan Lewrie series.

At home I googled up the info and found the first book in the series was The King's Coat. I added it to my wishlist. After several months I got the chance to order and read it.

Lambdin's style is good. Much more like Forrester than the wordy O'Brien style. The story begins with our hero, Alan Lewie, being booted out of his aristocratic luxury and into the navy as a midshipman. Not knwing one whit about seamanship, Lewrie finds himself in a world of hurt. To the reader's amazement, we find that Lewrie takes to the sea and life in the Navy like a duck to water.

The main differences in the style of the book to that of Forrester and O'Brien are clear. Lewrie is a randy chap. He enjoys the company of women and the author points this out at every occasion, pairing our hero with lonely wives in secret rendezvous. Also, the author believes in cursing, as do I. In this book, the characters are sailors and they swear like them. Often.

Plot and action are good, in accordance with typical Age of Sail norms with duels, gun battles, boardings, and mass destruction. The only thing I can fault the author with is an obsession with correct and detailed sailing info on the exact configuration of the sails. Mr. Lambdin is obviously a sailor himself and wants us to know that he knows what he is talking about. Passage after passage about the current set of canvas fill the novel. Here's an actual quote from the book:

To ease the wind aloft, Ariadne came more southerly to take the wind abeam. Waisters hauled in braces to larboard. With the third reef came the need for preventer braces and backstays, parrels aloft to keep the yards from swinging and flogging sails, not so much with an eye to sail or yard damage, but to keep the topmen from being flung out and down by a heavy smack by the flying canvas.

See what I mean. I've read dozen's of books like this and passages like this still make me scratch my head at passages like this.

But this point is minor. If you like the Jack Aubrey and Horatio Hornblower books, then you will enjoy the Alan Lewrie series.

Posted by michael at March 30, 2004 07:37 AM