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Man of War
By Alexander Kent

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Man of War

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Man of War
By Alexander Kent
Charnwood Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 0-7089-4983-5
Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - March 15, 2005

Depending on how you look at things, Man of War is either Alexander Kent's twenty-seventh Richard Bolitho novel, or his third Adam Bolitho novel. Adam is Richard's nephew, and he has followed his famous uncle, a recently deceased British Admiral, into the British Navy and into battle. This story is set in 1817, in the post-Napoleonic era. After the Unrivalled, Adam's old ship, is pulled off the line for refitting, he is at loose ends, uncertain if he will be given another ship. At last his worries are eased when he is assigned to Captain the Athena. The 74-gun, two-decker Athena is larger than his old ship, and in better shape, but this doesn't lessen his sorrow at losing a ship that had served him well.

Man of War is more of a character-based story than most of Kent's books, and a large portion of the story is told through flashbacks and via references to Richard's adventures. The main story concentrates on Adam's history and his relationships with his crew. The story follows Adam as he is tasked to the West Indies to hunt down ships carrying slaves. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, slavery has been outlawed - but still the unholy trade goes on. Those that traffic in human flesh do so purely out of avarice, and now that the trade is illegal the slavers have turned more pirate than merchant. Adam and his men must not only hunt this dangerous foe, but they also must learn to work together with the French sailors that ply the same waters, for now that the wars are over, these old foes are now allies - at least technically.

Man of War is not as much about naval battles and seafaring, as it is about personal battles. Adam has a lot of skeletons in his closet that he must come to terms with, he also must come to terms with a work environment that is both dangerous and ripe with rivalries and intrigue. Adam is also in love with the melancholy Lowenna, who is fighting her own demons, and whom he misses greatly while at sea. Adam is a relatively young officer, and he has a lot to learn if he is to succeed as a naval officer and live up to the Bolitho name.

Man of War can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Charnwood Large Print.

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