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In his magisterial two-volume work, Eric Gautier brings to life, with unerring historical precision, the constant struggle for maritime supremacy between the French and English during the second half of the eighteenth century. In so doing, he fuses the breadth of Dumas with the accuracy of O’Brian and the charm of Forester, creating his own distinct and trustworthy voice.
His hero, a young French noble, orphaned in mysterious circumstances, enrols as a Navy cadet at Brest and so begins a long and painful odyssey of self-discovery. His journey takes him from the seedy back streets of Brest and Saint-Malo to the corridors of power at Versailles, from the Bastille to the coasts of Cornwall, the West Indies, America, South Africa and India. He participates in many of the major naval engagements of the time, suffering wounds and innumerable setbacks as he doggedly uncovers the dark truth behind his mother’s kidnap and murder.
As the work’s translator, Roger D. Taylor, says in his foreword:
‘The enemy is of course the Royal Navy, and it is refreshing to have a different perspective on the great naval actions of the pre-Napoleonic era. There is nothing rose-tinted about this perspective; the author’s rigorous historical sense, backed up by painstaking research of contemporary documentation, tells it just as it was. Nothing is glorified or distorted for cheap effect. The overall impact of the writing is so much the greater because of this.’
This book is Volume One of a two-volume series.
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