Reviewed by David Maclaine
Victory is the eleventh novel in the Kydd Sea Adventures, and it's hard to imagine that any devotee of the series will not guess by its title what the climax of this novel will be. But before the fleets come together off Cape Trafalgar, where Nelson's flagship "Victory" leads the way to England's greatest naval triumph, Thomas Paine Kydd must face dozens of new challenges in a variety of seas.
The novel begins with a fierce and bloody fight against superior force, and Kydd's desperate attempt to save his shattered sloop. Soon he finds himself ashore, a hero to the newspapers but on the verge of despair at his dim prospects of getting a new command. It will be more surprising to the character than to Stockwin's readers that the young protagonist finds himself promoted once again, now on the quarterdeck of a frigate, and that the fleet he is dispatched to is the Mediterranean command of Lord Nelson. In a respite from the cat-and-mouse game of blockade duty, he must undertake a diplomatic mission to the Aegean Sea and then engage in a furious race to prevent a French coup. But these fascinating diversions soon give way to a rousing chase on the high seas as Nelson's fleet pursues the escaping French across the Atlantic and back again. Stockwin makes us share the keen suspense felt by men engaged in a crucial search for an elusive enemy, so much so that we begin to forget that we know very well how this grand dance will end.
When the clash comes at last, author Stockwin bows to the needs of the supreme moment and offers us a view of the action, not just from his chief characters Kydd and Renzi, but from an eye closer at hand upon the flagship where a great drama will unfold. The conclusion of Victory takes us into the heart of one of the most celebrated fleet actions in naval history, and Stockwin proves well up to the task of tackling that that great event. (2010, 320 pages)More about Victory at Powell's Books or Amazon.com