Tyger: A Kydd Sea Adventure

Written by Julian Stockwin
Review by Waheed Rabbani

In the early 1800s, with the Napoleonic Wars still raging, Captain Kydd brings his frigate, L’Aurore, into Plymouth Hoe. He is home following a successful mission rescuing his brother-in-law from a Turkish prison. Although the captain – true to his moniker, ‘Tom-cutlass’ – is anxious to get back to Cadiz to rejoin the British fleet, his carpenter brings him bad news. Rotting wood is discovered in the timbers of the garboard strake, the worst part in the ship’s hold. With L’Aurore under repair, Kydd is called as a witness at a court-martial. An eavesdropping news reporter overhears and prints critical remarks Kydd had made to a friend. The alarmed Admiralty swiftly reassigns Kydd to command another ship, the Tyger, whose disruptive crew, having recently mutinied, are still unruly. The Tyger is assigned to the Baltic Sea, and while Kydd is trying to control the defiant crew and other issues, he faces another challenge. Three captured Prussian frigates, flying the French flag, appear menacingly on the horizon.

Having joined the British Royal Navy when only fifteen, Julian Stockwin’s adept nautical know-how shows in his novels. We are treated to travel alongside the sailors and experience life on a ‘fighting-sail’ vessel. The combat scenes, with their elements of surprise, heroism, and horror, have an authenticity about them. These, combined with the political intrigue, particularly in the Baltic Sea countries, and the descriptions of societal norms of that period make this a truly interesting historical novel. It is the sixteenth instalment in the Kydd series, and naturally, those unfamiliar with the previous books might find the character descriptions rather light. That said, this reviewer believes that this is one of the best Kydd books thus far. Highly recommended.