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)More about Mutiny at Powell's Books, Amazon.com or The Book Depository