Top critical review
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Readable, very different from Hornblower
on September 14, 2003
This book deals with Lieutenant Richard Delancey's efforts to find a purpose and direction in his career after stagnating for several years. It is the second in a series, I didn't read the first one, but didn't feel like I'd lost much by skipping it.
For the first two-thirds of the book, the "purpose and direction" plot dominated (at least for me) the naval elements of the story. In fact, very little of the book covers dashing nautical adventure of the type C.S. Forester might have written--Most of it takes place on shore, and the ships seem to be just platforms and vehicles, rather than central elements. Naval battles barely intrude into the story at all.
As another reviewer commented, the last third of the book deals with a spy mission similar to the unfinished Hornblower novel. In effect, the book is four different "episodes" strung together. It is adequately good reading, but not brilliant. The most interesting part for me was watching Delancey grow in ability, find a purpose, and gain confidence in himself as an officer and a leader.
Not a brilliant book, but good enough to make me seek out others in the series (this is the first one I read). I'd give it three-and-a-half stars, if I could.