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Seth Hunter – The Tide of War

July 25, 2012

76. The Tide of War by Seth Hunter (2009)
Nathan Peake, Book 2

Read my review of book:
1. The Time of Terror

Length: 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Started: 11 July 2012
Finished: 14 July 2012

Where did it come from? Bookmooch.
Why do I have it? While I didn’t love the first book in the series, it had enough promising elements that I was interested in reading more, especially since I have a weak spot for boys on boats.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 19 March 2011.

Sailing ships in the
Caribbean, but there’s no
Jack Sparrow in sight.

Summary: Commander Nathan Peake has finally been given his own ship, a commission for the captaincy of the Unicorn. There are only two problems: the Unicorn is currently in the Caribbean, an ocean away from Nathan, and the vacancy has come about because her previous captain was found washed up on the shores of New Orleans with his throat slit by mutineers. When Nathan is finally able to claim his ship, he finds her in good repair, but full of a sullen and ill-trained crew… not the ideal situation for the fulfillment of his orders, which include hunting down the French ship Virginie, which is suspected of fomenting rebellion among the slave populations throughout the colonies.

Review: I wasn’t bowled over by the first book, The Time of Terror, but I thought it had enough promise that it would be worth picking up the second. Specifically, I enjoyed the characters, and thought individual scenes – particularly the naval ones – were well written, but I thought he tried to cover too much ground history-wise, and that it wasn’t particularly accessible. The good news is that the things I liked about The Time of Terror were also things I liked about The Tide of War, and there were more of them; much more time is spent at sea vs. on land in the second book. However, the bad news is that the problems I had with the first book were also present in the second book as well.

Hunter’s books are historically dense, and something about the way he presents that history doesn’t entirely work for me – I think he’s expecting readers to already be somewhat familiar with the time period and the political climate and the major players before they start reading. And while that may be a reasonable assumption for the French Revolution, it’s maybe less so for the Caribbean politics of the same time – at least, I’d never read anything much about it. As a consequence, I feel like there were some angles of the plot that were lost on me, and the (rather lengthy) sections that described them felt like they dragged. Because The Tide of War spends more of its time on the naval adventures rather than on the political scheming, it’s enjoyable enough as a series of set pieces; I found I could enjoy the action of the moment – say, of Nathan and his men storming a fort – without being able to explain the political ramifications of why they were doing so in the first place. But in general, I prefer my historical fiction with a more accessible history, so while this book definitely had some good moments, as a whole, it wasn’t a particular standout for me. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Fans of the Age of Sail who have a better grounding in the history than I do (or are willing to read over it to get to the battles with pirates) should enjoy this one. It’s technically the second in a series but doesn’t really rely too much on the events of the first one, so it could be read independently.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Can’t find any. Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The body had been brought up from the coast in a hogshead of rum and at the Governor’s request they fished it out for him and laid it on a tarp, the head lolling horribly in the glare of the new oil lamps from Philadelphia.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 70: “Not quite the career Mrs. Place had in mind for him when she had brought him to Shoreham but steady employment, for all of that, and a good-looking lad could go far, Nathan had heard, in the seraglios of the beys.” – a provincial governor in the Ottoman Empire.
  • p. 82: ““Nor India, where I am told the houris would have made Alexander the Great reconsider his sexual predilections.”” – one of the beautiful virgins provided in paradise for all faithful Muslims.
  • p. 132: “How would he react when he discovered that Nathan had brought his own Myrmidons with him?” – a person who executes without question or scruple a master’s commands.

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