The Torrid Zone

Written by Alaric Bond
Review by Jeff Westerhoff

War with France at the turn of the 19th century means conflict and intrigue on the high seas. HMS Scylla, led by Post Captain Banks, is escorting the replacement Governor of St. Helena, along with his obnoxious wife, two personal servants and a number of petty officials. Also traveling with these honored guests is Banks’ pregnant wife, Sarah. After dropping off the guests on the island, the plan is to return home to England and be re-fitted for the war. Unfortunately for the Scylla and her crew, they are faced with fighting three French warships simultaneously en route, and, unbeknownst to the crew, a serial killer is on board.

This is my first reading of the books in the Fighting Sail series. Although it always helps to read the previous volumes to learn more about the characters and their backstory, this book is a good standalone novel, especially if you enjoy British nautical books as I do. What I found interesting are the culture and the politics on board His Majesty’s ships; the author does a great job telling his story through the viewpoints of several of the crew members. Many novels in this genre only tell the tale from the captain’s perspective, while this book explains in detail life on board a warship and the differences of opinion that arise between the captain and his crew. Bond’s knowledge of nautical terms is impeccable, and his command of writing about the British navy is excellent. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a good nautical tale.