A Battle Won

Written by Sean Thomas Russell
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

1793, and the Reign of Terror is sweeping through France. Toulon has put itself under the protection of the English Navy. Master and Commander Charles Hayden is summoned to Plymouth to take command of the frigate HMS Themis and sail to Torbay to escort the last of the season’s convoys to meet up with Admiral Hood with supplies for the fleet. But all is not plain sailing. HMS Themis had previously been involved in a mutiny and is not a popular ship to be on; the weather is worsening as the winter storms gather; and the island of Corsica is in French hands and has to be taken if there is to be a safe haven for the English fleet in the Mediterranean.

This is all based on fact, which makes fascinating reading. Charles Hayden has his work cut out maintaining order on his ship, and the Army and Navy are constantly at loggerheads, neither group fully understanding the work or the role of the other. Then there is the priest on board who, full of his own importance, refuses to acknowledge shipboard rules. The characters are well drawn, the action described so that the reader is drawn right into it and, at the climax, is left wondering at the skill and bravery of these men. Threaded throughout runs the romance between Captain Hayden and Henrietta, the niece of Lady Hertle.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the second to involve Charles Hayden, and its final chapter leaves it wide open for a third.