©2004 David Donachie; (P)2007 Soundings
It's hard to assess this book. I knew it would be well read as I've previously bought a couple of Kate Ellis audiobooks and enjoyed Peter Wickham's narration. By The Mast Divided is clearly well researched with painstaking attention to detail. The problem I found is that the descriptions of activities and the development of the characters are done so thoroughly that it takes most of the pace out of the story. Almost all of part one - just over seven hours of listening - is over and all we've done is get the main characters pressed into naval service and leaving English shores. I feel a bit of a misery criticising the book because the quality of the writing is very good. However, I found myself 'tuning out' for a few minutes, then paying attention again and finding I hadn't missed much! On the basis of this, I much prefer Bernard Cornwell to David Donachie when we're fighting the French and the officer classes!
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"Might not be what you think"
This isn't an action series. The sea battle aspect of this series is not the focus. Rather, this series is a work of historical interest which illuminates the life of the times and the politics of the times. If history interests you, then you are in the right place. If you want sea battles and dashing heroes, you best look elsewhere.
"Historical Novel 1793 Royal Navy"
Donachie is a new author for me and this is book one in his series about the Royal Navy in 1793. The protagonist is John Pearce, who is press ganged into the Navy. He is placed on HMS Brilliant, a frigate on its way to war against the French. John forms friendships with a group of fellow press-ganged landlubbers. They form a gang called “The Pelican’s” with the aim to look out after each other. They are pressed enlisted men so are the lowest of the low aboard the ship. John shines as he uses his natural skills to help in whatever situation they are in and is a natural leader.
As the first book in a series I expected there would be more time spent on character building and back story. Donachie cleverly weaves these fictional characters into a true historical situation. There is action, the book bogs down at times but most often it is well paced. The book ends in a cliffhanger and sets up for book two. The story shows the harder side of the life of a gang press man at sea. The story is compelling and kept my attention. Peter Wickham does a good job narrating the story.
Yes, if they enjoy historical fiction
The descriptions of the sailing technology of the time period.
The same as the book title
I have listened to this authors work under his other pen name Jack Ludlow. This is the first I have purchased under his real name. I cannot wait until the release of the next Ludlow book , the sequel to "Son of Blood". A fantastic series about the Normans in Italy.
"Didn't work for me"
I wasn't expecting this to live up to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series,let alone Patrick Tull's magnificent narration, but I needed to feed my nautical fiction habit somehow. Maybe in later books Pearce performs heroic feats worthy of his predecessors in the genre, but not in this one. What a wimp!
"Enjoyable British Naval Fiction"
The book was a very pleasant diversion and the narrative was enjoyable. Peter Wickham has a nice range of accents and vocal styles. I loved his Irish accent. As a fan of the British Naval Fiction genre, I was happy to find this new series - worth a try if you enjoy seafaring stories.
"Worth a listen if this is your genre"
It is mine but sooner or later they all start to sound the same; the sea-lingo, the misery of the times under tar. But then again, you get the scent of seaboard life, hear the creaks and smile as you go back a couple of hundred years from the comfort of your iPod. Less 'hearty' than some but with a good twist. Great read too!
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