Written by Julian Stockwin

This is the 11th book in the ‘Kydd’ series, following the career of Thomas Kydd from ordinary seaman to (so far) frigate captain in Nelson’s navy. Followers of the series will know what to expect, and this latest book will not disappoint.

Stockwin consciously follows in the tradition of C S Forester and Patrick O’Brian, with extravagant attention to technical detail. As a retired Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal and the Royal Australian navies (O’Brian only ever went to sea in a small yacht) such things are understandably important to him. Yet this is a long-obsolete technology, so why do we find it so fascinating? A whole chapter of Victory is devoted to the sea trials of the new frigate. Yet many of us clearly relish it.

Victory is essentially a retelling of the Trafalgar campaign. As Stockwin himself asks in his Author’s Note, what new can be said about this? He tackles the problem by telling the story alternately from Kydd’s viewpoint and that of a midshipman on HMS Victory. The midshipman did not inspire me and I do not find Kydd’s companion, Renzi, very convincing (he is no Maturin). Kydd and his ship keep the story moving, giving us a real sense of being in a tall-masted fighting vessel, braving the battle and the breeze.