King, Ship, and Sword

Written by Dewey Lambdin
Review by John R. Vallely

In the fifteen previous well-received novels in the series, the Royal Navy’s Alan Lewrie has bedeviled the King’s enemies on land and sea and in both America and Europe. Lambdin’s latest tale has our rakehell protagonist becalmed in a period of an Anglo-French truce brought on by the 1801 Peace of Amiens. Peace proves more risky than war, however, as Lewrie is forced to return to his farm in Surrey and face Caroline, his strong-willed wife fully aware of her husband’s issues with fidelity. Opportunity arises as Lewrie is tasked with returning French officers’ swords to Napoleon himself. Caroline and he remove their uncertain relationship to Paris, where Lewrie finds himself an unwilling victim of Caroline’s shopping sprees and the cause of Bonaparte’s temper tantrum, owing to Lewrie’s less than diplomatic actions. Naturally, Lewrie’s marriage is complicated by the return of former lovers, including the hot-blooded Creole Charite, and former enemies, including the thoroughly unlucky Guillaume Choundas.

Forced to leave Paris to avoid death, Lewrie, Caroline, and friends are picked up by a British ship to be returned to England. Lewrie returns to sea by taking command of H.M.S. Reliant. His eldest son Hugh is also taken into the Royal Navy as a midshipman, while his younger sons steals away to also serve on a British warship.

With every passing book, Alan Lewrie pushes Horatio Hornblower further from center stage.