Under Enemy Colors
It is 1793, and the French revolutionary wars are just getting underway. France and England battle for control of the seas. Embroiled in this is Lieutenant Charles Hayden of the British Royal Navy. But all is not well. Being of mixed parentage (his father English and his mother French) and having no political connections, he is denied promotion and assigned to the frigate Themis, a ship captained by Josiah Hart, who is well known for both his cowardice in the face of the enemy and his tyrannical command of his ship. He maintains this sorry state of affairs because he has powerful friends in the Admiralty. Once aboard, Charles discovers that the crew is on the verge of mutiny. He becomes an instant adversary of Hart, but a number of the officers and sailors back Charles. In short order, even before they sail, he impresses them with his seamanship and integrity as a firm but fair officer. Once out to sea, the ship’s physician and Charles take advantage of the captain’s illness so that Charles takes command. He leads the Themis into a successful engagement with the French that Hart would have sailed away from. From here on, adventures on the high seas begin.
S. Thomas Russell has written an engaging novel of life aboard ships at war in the 1790s. In Charles Hayden, he creates a protagonist caught in the turmoil of war, politics, and society at that time. Charles is a character clearly at home at sea and a man of honorable character with a desire to command firmly yet fairly. Comparisons will be made with O’Brian and Forester, but Russell’s adventure into these busy waters stands well. For fans of this genre, this is a must read.
Under Enemy Colours