In Pasha Julian Stockwin rescues the Dardanelles campaign of 1807 from the Archive of Forgotten Wars. In that year the British fleet forced the Dardanelles twice – there and back – but refrained from bombarding Constantinople. The objective was to keep the Ottoman Empire onside in the war against Napoleon, but instead the Ottomans went to war against the Russians, who were currently allies of the British. Not long afterwards the Russians made peace with France and signed an alliance which brought the Ottomans back on onside with the British. The Dardanelles expedition was a notable feat of arms but nonetheless useless and unnecessary.
This is the 15th in Stockwins’ ‘Kydd’ series, following the career of his hero from press-ganged landlubber to Admiral. Each book guarantees a good story, but I found Pasha less exciting than the others I have read, although this is probably more the fault of the Dardanelles campaign. However, I was disappointed when in chapter two Renzi, Kydd’s long-term companion and private secretary, leaves the sea, marries and inherits his father’s estate. Even though he is quickly recruited into a clandestine mission to Constantinople where he eventually meets up again with Kydd, this means that we have two stories told in parallel, one at sea and one on land. Stockwin is much better at sea, and I could not resist reading the seaborne chapters first and then catching up with the action on land. Let’s stay afloat next time, please.