Raider of The Scottish Coast
This Age of Sail novel follows Jaco Jacinto of the Continental Navy, and Darren Smythe, Royal Navy, who start as midshipmen. The story follows their rise through the ranks during the American Revolution. Jaco’s family are Sephardic Jews; his father serves on the colonial government’s Marine Committee, whose influence may help protect Jaco from religious prejudice. Darren rises rapidly after his ship is attacked, leaving the other officers dead and him in command. Jaco becomes a protégé of John Paul Jones and gains fighting experience. Midway through the story, Jaco and Darren’s paths cross briefly after a battle, and they become friends. As the war continues, both young men must learn to deal with problem superiors and fellow officers.
The battle scenes are exciting (not for the weak of stomach), and Liebman is good at explaining shipboard details, such as the many steps to firing a cannon. His preface speaks to balancing between readers who love naval minutiae, and those who couldn’t care less about rigging details or shot types. He provides a needed cast of characters at the end of the book, and further technical naval detail. The story concentrates more on Jaco than Darren, as witnessed by the title, though Jaco’s mission to Scotland doesn’t happen until very late in the book. The action scenes will please military fiction fans, but Liebman’s protagonist characters are not as fully developed as O’Brian’s or Forester’s. This is labeled volume one, so a sequel must be planned.