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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Darkening Sea by Alexander Kent

Genre: Nautical Fiction

Setting: The early 1800's in England, and on the high seas aboard British  warships.

First sentence: The meandering track that ran around the wide curve of Falmouth Bay was just wide enough to allow passage to horse and rider, and only slightly less dangerous than the foot path which was some where beneath it.

This book is the twentieth in Kent's Bolitho series.  This series currently runs to twenty-eight novels.  Although it can be read as a stand alone novel, I suggest reading the Bolitho novels in order to better understand the story arcs which occur over several books.

Our main character is Vice Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho.  The Bolitho novels have followed him since he was a young midshipman.  Now he has ascended to high rank in the British Navy.  Yet, he has maintained a modest self image.  He is loved by a beautiful woman, he knows how to be a leader of men, but he is hounded by his doubts.

This installment of the series is part war story and part soap opera.  We have the drama of battle on the high seas combined with the drama of love, friendship, and personal secrets.

Will Sir Richard be able tho keep the secret of his failing eyesight?

Can Catherine, Sir Richard's great love, maintain the secret of her humble beginnings?

Is there any way Bolitho can mend his broken frienship with his best friend Thomas Herrick?

What will happen between Bolitho's nephew Adam, and his great love Zenoria?

Zenoria has given birth to Adam's child even though she is married to another captain.  Can she keep the secret of the child's true paternity?

Interwoven between the relationship drama is some fine naval warfare action.  Bolitho's small squadron must battle the French.  But now there is a pesky American frigate to deal with.

Even though Sir Richard is hounded by self doubts, in the end he proves his worth as a great naval commander.

For me, this was a fun read.


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