All the Brave Fellows (Revolution at Sea Saga)

Written by James L. Nelson
Review by John R. Vallely

Novelists that sail in waters blessed by the genius of C.S. Forester and Patrick O’Brien place themselves in as much peril as those fleets which dared to challenge Lord Nelson. While James Nelson is not a Forester or an O’Brien and his protagonist (Captain Isaac Biddlecomb of the Continental Navy of the American Revolution) is neither a Hornblower nor an Aubrey, Nelson and Biddlecomb do combine to provide more than enough derring-do and seafaring action to satisfy naval enthusiasts.

As is the case with the better series, the novels should be read in sequence. This enables the reader to oversee the maturing of Biddlecomb as both a man and as a naval officer faced with the challenges of war and competing against the talented seamen and veteran officers of the Royal Navy. Our young hero manages to come through with honor and dignity intact while simultaneously leaving one in doubt as to how he will cope with the many obstacles he faces.

Lords of the Ocean finds Biddlecomb conveying Benjamin Franklin to France as the official envoy from the rebel colonies. He is plunged into the world of spies and duplicity and is manifestly out of his depth. (One can only imagine Hornblower faced with speaking with diplomats!). Biddlecomb and his fellow officers triumph on both land and sea and take the reader on an enjoyable voyage of double agents and privateering. All the Brave Fellows finds Biddlecomb, his wife and newborn child, and his crew joining with other American forces in a desperate struggle in the 1777 campaign in and around Philadelphia. Biddlecomb’s confrontation with Lt. John Smeaton, an old enemy from the Royal Navy, adds to the excitement as rebel fights redcoat on land and the upstart Americans duel with the mighty British fleet at sea

Historically accurate and imaginatively depicted, Captain Biddlecomb proves a worthy shipmate. If you enjoy the age of sail, you will profit from these novels.

John R. Vallely