The Captain’s Nephew

Written by Philip K. Allan
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

During the 1790s, fighting between England and France on the Atlantic become continuous battles. At this time, HMS Agrius, captained by Percy Follett with First Lieutenant Alexander Clay as his second in command, is leading a convoy of merchant ships for the East India Company on the first leg of their journey to India. Once the convoy reaches Madeira, new orders are to be issued to the Agrius. One evening, enjoying dinner aboard one of the ships in the convoy, the Earl of Warwick, Clay meets and falls in love with one of its passengers, Lydia Browning. Unfortunately, she is of a higher class than the Lieutenant, and he is eventually forced to end the relationship by his captain and the young lady’s aunt.

As the Earl of Warwick continues its trip to India, the Agrius is assigned to intercept a French warship carrying troops and supplies to the Caribbean. During the chase, Clay is learning his lack of social status is creating a difficult relationship with the captain. Captain Follett favors his nephew, the inept Second Lieutenant Windham, and gives him credit for decisions made by Clay while failing to discipline Windham for poor behavior.

Well-researched regarding nautical terms and dialect, this is the first novel in the Alexander Clay series. I enjoy English nautical books like those written by Alexander Kent and find this series much like his novels. The author includes several of the many crew members in his story, which helps to define and add depth to each of them. Their social status of each plays an important role. I look forward to the next issue in this new series.