Age of Sail anyone?
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I've recently discovered the Horatio Hornblower series and am devouring them as quickly as I can get my hands on them. Anyone know of any other good comparable books?
2weeboopiper First Message
I'll take a stab at this...
It depends on what you consider "good." Take, for instance, Patrick O'Brian. A lot of readers think he's the best AoS writer ever, while others hate him with a passion.
Do you prefer the fighting/battles and action? Or do you prefer more general history and the cultural/social side of the AoS?
I like a good mixture of both, I guess. I like the historical side of the period, but I'm enjoying the action sequences in the Hornblower books as well.
You might want to give Julian Stockwin's "Kydd" series or Richard Woodman's "Drinkwater" series a try.
If you want something that has similiar language/content to the works of the time (Frederick Marryat, James Fenimore Cooper, Herman Melville, etc.), then go with Patrick O'Brian.
The books by Marryat, Cooper and Melville are worth looking into as well, especially since they are writing from first hand knowledge.
Kenneth Roberts wrote some novels involving American privateers. Captain Caution, Lydia Bailey, The Lively Lady. His Rabble in Arms gives a detailed account of one of my favorite naval engagements: the Battle of Valcour Island.
Aren't there any good historical novels in which Horatio Nelson is a major character? I've never come across one.
Ouch! I find it interesting that you find Stockwin's book so badly written that you don't want to finish it. (You must think I have bad taste. Maybe I do?! LOL)
Anyway, I don't know that they get any "better." If you feel so strongly about it, perhaps it's better not to waste your time? Maybe give another author a chance instead?
I wouldn't say you have bad taste, I just tend to be a picky reader :-). Besides, it's not incredibly bad, otherwise I would have abandoned it much sooner. LOL.
I just keep getting lost in a lot of the technical terms that he uses for parts of the boat; I can't picture most of the actions he describes. The characters are somewhat flat too and the scenes feel choppy to me, like he sat down to write one, stopped for a few weeks, and then wrote another.
But, again, I'm a picky reader :-).
I remember reading when I was a child the 'Midshipman Quinn' series by Showell Styles. For younger readers, but set in the Napoleonic period and a jolly good read, I remember.
Actually, sticking with C. S. Forester, The Good Shepherd is incredibly good. It is set during WWII and the main character is actually American. Of course, in my personal opinion nothing can beat good ole Horry. You should watch the mini series if you haven't already. Of course, it's not like the book but its still a good AoS movie.
I started reading the Aubrey series but wasn't prepared for the character difference between him and H.H. Horatio is very altruistic and honorable and actually unbelievably perfect. Aubrey isn't...he's too human for me. I kinda like being disillusioned. :)
Interested in jumping out of the Regency period?
If you can find it, you must absolutely try Nevil Shute's Trustee from the Toolroom Actually this has been reprinted so you shouldn't have trouble. I don't think that The Breaking Wave or The Seafarers are as good, but all great adventure with mid-20th century nautical settings. Great sea works, but NOT 18th-19th Century.
However, Joan Druett has done some very good intensive nautical history works (non-fiction) Her new mystery series Wiki Coffin is not yet as good as Forester or O'Brien imho.
I greatly enjoyed a new 'age of sail' book by a new author. Enemy Under Colors by S. Thomas Russell.
I hate to cheat by posting a link, but Bookmarks magazine had a really good list of books that you might want to check out:
101 Crackerjack Sea Books
I've read most of these books before but i will be getting Enemy Under Colors and give it a try. I'm always looking for something new. I have to admit that i also found the Stockwin books to be uninspiring. As for any recommendations of my own, I would suggest English Passengers - although not strictly about war in Napoleonic era it is definitely within the Age of sail and has characteristics that to me anyway made it one of the most unusual and thought-provoking books I've read in several years. Also I would suggest as non-fiction background reading I book that I wrote specifically because of my interest in the Age of Sail: Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner and a Gentleman Solved the greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail.
I've read the C. S. Foerster'sHoratio Hornblower series several times and have enjoyed them everytime. His The Captain From Connecticut was also very good.
Alexander Kent (aka Douglas Reeman) Bolithos series is great and I like these a little better than Horblower. I like the charactor of Richard Bolitho a little more than Horatio Hornblower. His modern naval stories are excellent too, A Prayer for the Ship, A Ship Must Die and about 7 or 8 more.
Julian Stockwins Kydd series I read the first two but could not get into any more of them.
Dudley Pope I have enjoyed his histories for years Decision At Trafalgar: The Story of the Greatest British Naval Battle of the Age of Nelson is a must for anyone interested in this time period. I have just started his Lord Ramage books
If you like a good old fashion sea story with a hearty laugh try Doctor Dogbody's Leg by James N. Hall the coauthor for Mutiny on the Bounty. Doctor Dogbody is a retired Naval Surgen living in an Inn with several other retired of 1/2 pay Officers. The Inn also a palce where starey eyed Midshipmen with dreams of glory leave for their first cruises.
The Doctor is missing one leg an is always willing to tell any who will listen
on how and where he last it. The Doctor must have had 7 or 8 legs to start with as he lost that many to save King and Country.
I would highly, highly recommend Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. Okay...there are dragons. But Novik is an excellent writer, and her hero is a captain in the British navy of Napoleon's time. There are some excellent action sequences, and the books are real page-turners.
Dewey Lambdin and his Ramcat Alan Lewrie adventures starting with the King's Coat are worth a read.
In Order from Forester, I would read Bolitho by Alexander Kent next, followed by Dudley Pope's Ramage, then Julian Stockwin's Kydd, and Richard Woodman's Drinkwater, fit in some of Lambdin and don't forget to get some of Cyril Northcote Parkinson and with Richard Delancey and his Guernsey saga in here. Last i would venture to Patrick O'Brien. This should keep someone busy for a year. I have a couple hundred Age of Sail listed in my library with just this tag. Please feel free to browse for ideas.
Recently there has also been Jay Worral with his Charles Edgemont in Sails on the Horizon and Any Approaching Enemy
You might like to try James Nelson's Brethren of the Coast series.
Agree with weeboopiper, Patrick O'Brian is wonderful. I've read all the Hornblower and all the Aubrey/Maturin. It is a toss up on who's the better.
Horatio Hornblower introduced me to this genre, which led me on to a number of other series. The one I have liked the best, by far, is the Nathaniel Drinkwater series by Richard Woodman. The author, himself, was a captain in the Royal Navy--and even hosts an interesting and helpful video, Sea Warriors: The Royal Navy in the Age of Sail "Companion video to the great seafaring novels". The video also includes interviews with a number of other age of sail authors.
Nathaniel Drinkwater is an understated hero. He is not a womanizer, though the novels have no lack of romantic tension. The stories are solid with an emphasis on sea action and relationships. I highly recommend them.
I have recently read Alaric Bonds first two books in his fighting sails series His Majesty's Ship and Jackass Frigate. I enjoyed them very much. Have his next one on the TBR shelf True Colours (The Third Book in the Fighting Sail Series). Looking forward to it.
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