Monday, July 25, 2011

The Battle Won: A Novel by S. Thomas Russell

A Battle Won: A Novel. S. Thomas Russell. Berkley Trade Paperback: Penguin Group USA Inc. August 2011. 464 pp. ISBN #: 9780425241325.

Charles Hayden is an officer in the English Navy, a man whose father was honored for his naval service but who himself has been misunderstood and scorned because of a mutiny that resulted in the hanging of all who participated. It's as if The Themis is cursed because no one wishes to board let alone serve on it. But Charles Hayden who dreamed of commanding his own ship is appointed Master Commander of The Themis and commanded to serve as a convoy to other ships traveling to a volatile area in Gibraltar. The reputation of the ship is the least of his problems!

In the thrilling tradition of Patrick O'Brian, Bernard Cornwall and other writers depicting the highs and lows of military warfare, S. Thomas Russell joins their eminent world as a well-deserving writer whose hero faces every possible trial one could endure at sea. How is one to deal with a clergyman who challenges Hayden as a traitor because his parents were from both England and France? How does one get respect for a crew boy who is part Jewish, anathema to these Anglican believers? What about the character whose sole intent is not to serve but to incite rebellion and dissension among the crew when total unity is absolutely necessary to survive the storms and battles lying ahead that threaten to wipe out both crew and ship?

Like the men under his command, Hayden earns the reader's respect as he bravely handles every command to survive a storm or an attack from the French and even risks his own life to save every man forced to abandon a fellow, sinking ship. More and more action fills these pages with fear and courage that continuously fluctuates like the swaying ship. Arriving in Gibraltar after influenza has taken its toll on his crew, Hayden is again misunderstood but told to proceed to Corsica, where the Spanish and French are vying for control and revolution!

While many conspire to wreck his career and The Themis, Hayden proves himself to be the noble warrior of integrity and limitless courage who will delight every reader who loves a good military and nautical tale. What a thrilling work that has given this reviewer a desire to read more books like this! Best seller material for sure!

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