A young sailor battles foes on sea and land in this second entry in Stockwin's 19th-century naval series. When we last left young Thomas Kydd, he had distinguished himself in battle aboard the Duke William (Kydd, 2001). Now, Kydd and fellow novice sailor Nicholas Renzi leave the lumbering Duke William for the sleek frigate Artemis and promptly find themselves in cutthroat battle again, overmatched against the French frigate Citoyenne. The face-off ends in hand-to-hand combat and a hard-won victory for the men of the Artemis. But Kydd's jubilation is short-lived; his sister, Cecilia, arrives unexpectedly with the news that their father's health is failing. Kydd must return home to provide for his family. Renzi, with whom the virginal Cecilia has been flirting, accompanies his friend. They work dutifully but unenthusiastically to open a school, longing all the while for the sea. A reprieve comes when Cecilia finds someone to run the school, freeing Kydd and Renzi to follow their passion. Fortune favors them again; they're able to rejoin the Artemis, which is bound for the Orient. On this odyssey, Kydd also finds love (with the effervescent Sarah Bullivant) and sees a good deal of India, Macao and China. An act of desertion threatens both the valued friendship of Renzi and Kydd and their futures with the Artemis. The story peaks early with the naval battle and slowly loses speed down the stretch, but period dialect and seagoing argot aplenty add credibility to the adventure, and the unworldly Kydd is an apt lens for the reader's journey. (June)
Forecast:Stockwin bravely goes where Patrick O'Brian has gone before and shows promise in this sophomore effort. Fans of naval adventure will surely continue to follow the series, despite the small lapses of this installment.
Release date: 05/01/2002