For King or Commonwealth

Written by Richard Woodman
Review by Patricia O’Sullivan

In A Ship for the King, Richard Woodman left his readers wondering which side Captain Kit Faulkner would choose at the start of the English Civil War. In For King or Commonwealth we learn how Kit chose to side with the king against Parliament for reasons that have little to do with his loyalty to the monarch. Kit’s mentor, Sir Henry Mainwaring, to whom he owes his life, and the beautiful Lady Katherine Villiers, for whom Kit left his Puritan wife, went into exile with the court. Kit felt he had no other choice but to join them and pledge his loyalty to King Charles II. But after years living with the impoverished court in the Netherlands, Sir Henry wants Kit to take him home to England. Kit is not keen to leave Katherine, especially when he discovers how much time she spends alone with the young king. But during a sea battle in the English Channel, Kit is captured by an unlikely foe: his own son, Captain Nathanial Faulkner. Imprisoned in the Tower, Kit wonders if he will survive Parliament’s charge of treason and, more importantly, if his family can ever forgive him for leaving.

This is a strong sequel, full of wonderful details of naval life during the English Civil War and the first Anglo-Dutch War. Kit’s personal narrative complements the historical narrative, providing a good balance between the action scenes and the interpersonal ones. I love how Woodman has developed Kit Faulkner from a self-centered exile to a man who learns to accept his faults and his place in the world.