1793. In France, the Royalists are clinging to power in Toulon, but the Republicans are gaining ground. Lieutenant Fury, returning from India, finds that Britain is at war with France when a French frigate attacks his ship. A bloody sea battle ensues.
From then on the pace doesn’t falter. Fury is promoted and soon finds plenty of action: he’s landed ashore to take out a Republican battery (lots of explosions); told to capture a lugger (terrific chase and more fighting); and put in charge of a floating battery (tremendous cannon and mortar fire). Then he is sent to Fort Pomet on the outskirts of Toulon, now being besieged by French Republicans. How long can he hold off the enemy? As the situation worsens, Fury has another concern: will he be able to rescue the lovely Sophie and her father, the Comte de Chabeuil?…
If you like plenty of action with a nautical flavour, you’ll love this. ‘Halliards were overhauled, bringing the yards down onto the cap while the clew lines, buntlines and leech lines were hauled on to bring the sail up to the yards.’ What the hell does it mean? Who cares? It’s a gripping read. I particularly liked the authentically formal way Fury relates to his men. ‘How long have you been in the service, Mr Francis?’ he asks the youngest midshipman, who can scarcely be in his teens.
Unfortunately, there is a disappointing lapse in the author’s historical accuracy when it comes to Fury’s beloved. Within five minutes, he’s calling her ‘Sophie’, which in 18th century terms indicates that she is either a servant or a loose woman. I was expecting the Comte to horsewhip him for insulting his daughter’s reputation. Come on, Fury! England expects her officers to behave like gentlemen!