Mutiny

by Julian Stockwin


Reviewed by David Maclaine


At the beginning of Mutiny, the fourth novel in Julian Stockwin's brilliant Kydd Sea Adventures series, young Thomas Paine Kydd has reached the rank of master's mate and has been posted to a different ship than his close friend Nicholas Renzi. For a while, during a perilous mission to retrieve a diplomat from Venice, they are reunited, but by the novel's climax they are apart again, which turns out to be a good thing for the hero, who is swept up in The Great Mutiny, one of the most amazing events in British naval history. More precisely, Kydd's ship is caught in the mass mutiny at Nore, a secondary outbreak which began in sympathy with the original mutiny of the fleet at Spithead. The sailors have struck to win a much needed raise in wages, frozen during decades of inflation. Kydd's warm heart and sense of fair play lead him to side with the sorely oppressed seamen. But the fierce logic of rebellion and reaction quickly outpace idealism, and our hero faces test after test of his loyalties. It is the nature of a series that we cannot seriously believe it will discard its hero, leaving him dangling from a yardarm; the challenge is to imagine how he can be disentangled from his latest predicament.

Although the drama at Nore is the center of the novel and the emotional heart of the action, there are enough other strands to fill a novel by themselves. In addition to the Venetian mission, which offers a glimpse of that city in the final days of its long history as an independent republic, we are drawn into a ferocious fleet action, and find time to visit Gibraltar, where Kydd once more demonstrates that his understanding of young women has not advanced as rapidly as his seamanship. In Mutiny, author Stockwin turns a series of huge historical events into engaging tales that compel the speediest possible turning of pages. (2004, 336 pages)

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Other novels about mutiny at sea:

King's Captain by Dewey Lambdin (2002), about a pleasure-loving officer in the British navy as mutiny infects the fleet and an old enemy threatens his life; #9 in the Alan Lewrie series. More info

The Five Winds by Patricia Shaw (2003), about the passengers taken hostage when a ship's crew mutinies as it nears Australia's Gold Coast. More info

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990), a novel for readers age 10-12 about a thirteen-year-old girl, the only passenger on a ship sailing from England to Rhode Island in 1802, who is caught in the middle when the crew mutinies. More info


Nonfiction about mutinies at sea:

Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny by Mike Dash (2002), about Jeronimus Corneliszoon, who led a seventeenth-century mutiny on a ship of the Dutch East India Company. More info

Wreck of the Medusa by Alexander McKee (2007), about the 1816 mutiny and subsequent wreck of the ship Medusa off the coast of Africa. More info

The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander (2003). More info


Online:

Mutiny at Wikipedia


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