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The American Revolution has been well covered in fiction, but almost entirely as a land war-much as the War of 1812 has been treated virtually only as a naval war. By Force of Arms is the first book of a new series that will address the former shortcoming by following the career of Isaac Biddlecomb, a merchant seaman who has risen from the forecastle to the command of a vessel at the opening of the story. Biddlecomb isn't a natural-born hero at home in a hail of grape in the tradition of Hornblower or Aubrey. He is an ordinary American living in an extraordinary time, and Nelson, who has sailed aboard the modern reconstruction of the Revolutionary-period frigate H.M.S. Rose, makes clever use of this device to explain issues of the war and man-of-war life to the reader in unobtrusive fashion. Nelson's seagoing experience is evident in his clear, convincing description of the sailing. His dialogue, however, lacks the period feel of O'Brian and Forester-several times denizens of both the quarterdeck and the forecastle indicate assent with "Okay," which didn't degrade the vernacular for another century. Biddlecomb's sidekick is Ezra Rumstick, part-time patriot, part-time smuggler, full-time friend, and his nemesis is Captain James Wallace, the thoroughly professional commander of the Rose. The characters are strong and realistic, the plot and action believable and brisk, if none too complex, and readers will care enough about Biddlecomb's welfare to reach for Nelson's second installment. On the whole, an engaging start to what promises to be a fine adventure series in a neglected milieu.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"'Authenticity runs throughout the book, carrying total conviction'" -- Patrick O'Brian "'First rate action writing'" Publishers Weekly "'Nelson writes with the eagerness of a young man sailing his first command'" -- Patrick O'Brian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Editorial Reviews
Great story, well written, with great description and character development.Published 2 months ago by Ed Martin
I started out with his first Viking saga, read the next one. and just finished his Revolutionary War at sea trilogy. I plan on reading his entire catalog of titles now. Read morePublished 14 months ago by J. CROSBY
Nelson provides an alternative view naval life in the 18th century. Much like O'Brian's work we follow a captian throgh many chalenges and choices leading up to and through the... Read morePublished on July 19, 2013 by Harry
I'm no great historian, so I must only say that I found this book very entertaining. A wonderful escapist bit of light and breezy literature.Published on July 1, 2010 by Philip Scott Wikel
As an Englishwoman, naturally I have always looked at History from the UK point of view - I was fascinated by Mr Nelson's novel, it is full of adventure, - romance - sailing... Read morePublished on July 18, 2006 by Helen Hollick
Just discovered James L. Nelson's books, and boy am I glad I did. According to the bio in the book, Nelson is a former professional sailor, and it shows. Read morePublished on June 22, 2005 by Bill Hayes
"In the tradition of Patrick O'Brian" clearly means "books about guys who sail ships and shoot at each other" with no requirement whatsoever of, say, nuanced and developed... Read morePublished on January 2, 2005 by Erik C. Peterson
Even authenticity can be overdone, and those of us who don't know our backstay from our starboard leech may at times feel drowned by the ocean of detail Nelson incorporates into... Read morePublished on April 11, 2004 by Peter Reeve