The Valiant Sailors
The tyrannical, venal, sadistic, and antisocial ship’s captain is such a common figure in historical fiction about the age of the “iron men and wooden walls” that is has become a cliché. Overused or not, the interplay between courageous and noble junior officer and Bligh-like sailing ship commander remains as arresting as ever. First Lieutenant Phillip Hazard of H.M.S. Trojan is confronted with an insane Captain North as he sails to Sevastapol for the Crimean War. Hazard’s black sheep older brother and a bewitching member of the Russian nobility keep our hero’s attention from focusing exclusively on dealing with the rigors of war and the strain of coping with a psychotic commanding officer. In this first book of a series, Stuart has done a fine bit of writing on an era of naval history which is largely forgotten today.