To the Eastern Seas: Thomas Kydd 22

Written by Julian Stockwin
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

1810. Napoleon Bonaparte has been defeated for the time being, and the Navy is ordered to give its attention to other matters. Britain’s mind is now on Empire and building its influence in the Dutch East Indies. The spices grown there are worth their weight in gold, and Captain Sir Thomas Kydd is sent to acquire these for the British Crown. Two colonial masters face each other with different ideas as to how this can be done, and it is left to Kydd to work out the best solution.

I have now read several of Julian Stockwin’s books in this series and always find them totally absorbing. His knowledge of life at sea in the 19th century and the politics involved enables him to create a story of action and intrigue which keeps the pages turning from beginning to end. His characters live and breathe alongside the real people of the day, and his very helpful glossary at the end of the book allows him to use terms and language which although often unknown to us today would then have been familiar to the crews of the ships. It is also worth reading his Author’s Notes, as they give an excellent insight into the activities of the East India Company and the background to little-known facts about the events of the day, such as the British invasion of Macao.

As always, I learned a great deal of an area in history that I know little about whilst at the same time thoroughly enjoying a book that became more and more impossible to put down.