A sweeping novel of maritime mutiny set against the backdrop of the French Revolution that evokes such masters as Patrick O'Brian and Bernard Cornwell.
Russell's first-rate debut features taut plotting, liberal action and an attractively modest hero: Royal Navy Lt. Charles Hayden. In 1793, Britain is at war with revolutionary France, and Hayden, the son of an English father and a French mother, feels "torn in half." Denied a promotion, he reluctantly accepts appointment as first lieutenant to the frigate Themis: the commander, Capt. Josiah Hart, has powerful connections in the Admiralty, but is widely disparaged among the fleet as a tyrannical coward. Hayden is dismayed to find the ship in "a state of dreadful disarray," the crew on the verge of mutiny and Hart hostile to Hayden's remedial efforts. With the French in sight, tensions aboard come to a boil. Russell writes knowledgeably about late-18th-century naval warfare and lyrically about the sea. In Hayden, he has created a complex, sympathetic hero. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information