An Awkward Commission


This is the third novel in Donachie’s 1790s naval series and so continues the story of John Pearce and his friends, who have once again been pressed into King George’s navy. In his efforts to release them John tries enlisting the help of the authorities, and eventually follows them to the Mediterranean, bearing a message from Pitt to Admiral Hood.

I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but I found this one to be well-written by an author who knows his history, and with some exciting sea battles. That said, it didn’t appeal to me, for two reasons. My main problem was with the constant changing of viewpoint between three main characters, which meant that I didn’t get involved with any of them. My other objection is that not all the loose ends are tied up at the end, so you have to buy the next book in the series to discover how or, indeed if, Pearce succeeds in his mission to free his friends. Plus, at one point we are taken into the mind of a minor character, but the story point he raises is not resolved and it is not clear whether it will be in the next novel. I dislike novels that leave the reader hanging in such a way. But for anyone who is more enthusiastic about seafaring stories than I am, this is a good read with some good detail about the workings of the seafaring ships of the day and an interesting historical background.

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