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No quarter : a Matty Graves novel by Broos…

No quarter : a Matty Graves novel (edition 2006)

by Broos Campbell

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405285,656 (3.5)2
Title:No quarter : a Matty Graves novel
Authors:Broos Campbell
Info:Ithaca, N.Y. : McBooks Press, 2006.
Collections:Your library, Fiction
Tags:2012, 19th century

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No Quarter by Broos Campbell



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Well written and very readable, No Quarter features complex but believable characters in a storyline that certainly keeps the pages turning. Campbell's relaxed narrative, combined with some truly wicked humour makes you reach for the next in the series - there are two more, but is he writing further?

A book that realised all my expectations; highly recommended. ( )
  AlaricBond | Jul 11, 2009 |
Finding areas to write about in Nautical Fiction, or Age of Sail, that are new, or have not been explored seems at first not that easy. After all, you start down this path and you see hundreds of books in the period now. Forester does not stand alone any longer. And thankfully O'Brian has been eclipsed.

Campbell has decided to look at things through American eyes, which Nelson and others do also. (Even wayback with Hoyt, or further, Melville.)

When tackling this subject you make choices. How much plot and story over how much ambiance. Campbell gives our hero some handicaps at the beginning but by doing so exposes us to some obscure history of the period. How many people really know of the Whiskey Rebellion? And if so how many empathize with the rebels there. It is not like the Civil War.

We also see a rather stock figure in the Captain, who is the relation of our hero. It makes the life of our hero conflicted. But we overcome that and get into the story over what is Modern day Haiti. Back then it was a strife torn land, put into further turmoil by our stance to France and it's problems in coming to grips with the chances taking place because of the Revoloution (French Revolution.)

By the time we are done, we see that most of the book is more character study surrounded by the sea and the era in this opening to the series. We find that the heroes friend and mentor is by far more interesting then the cousin patron, and look forward to more books in the series, and further sea adventures. ( )
  DWWilkin | Apr 29, 2009 |
I've read a number of nautical adventures of late and enjoyed them immensely. So when "No Quarter" by Broos Campbell was recommended, a naval adventure that takes place during the neonatal years of the US Navy, I picked it up quickly. In novels like "Kydd" or the Hornblower series I was able to envision the life and times of these people and the writing was entertaining, provocative and stimulating. However, I did not find Mr. Campbell's inaugural novel entertaining or informative. Instead the battles were listless and the seamanship lackluster. It was hard for me to believe that a US Naval ship would be so badly run, so poorly managed and the average man to be lugubrious at a time every man was expected to do his duty. Mr. Campbell also did not detail the everyday happenings on such a ship nor did he convey the energy such a ship would have going into certain danger and death. That Mr. Campbell did not include a section detailing his historical references, research and whatnot was troublesome. ( )
  BruderBane | Mar 5, 2008 |
In No Quarter, the first of Broos Campbell’s Matty Graves series, young Graves is a midshipman in the fledgling U.S. Navy at the height of the Quasi-War with France. His first-person narrative takes the USS Rattle-Snake, her officers and crew from Baltimore to Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti), with tense encounters with both British and French warships along the way. Once off Haiti, the Rattlesnakes come under attack immediately and have to sort friend from foe – not simple, since the U.S. is at war, although not officially, with France, but the French government is changing as the Directorate gives way to Napoleon’s Consulate. Haiti itself is in the midst of a war for independence from France and for the emancipation of slaves, with various groups all claiming legitimacy.

International affairs seem straightforward compared to the tangled relationships among the American naval officers. In the early U.S. Navy, commissions and commands were often awarded for political reasons and many officers worked to curry favor with civilian politicos. Rivalries and ambition sometimes trumped the good of the service or the military mission. The men of the officer corps were exceedingly prickly about their honor and duels were commonplace. Matty is an upright young man whose fellow officers are all flawed in one way or another. In trying to figure out who his friends are, he learns not to take his comrades at face value. As the story unfolds, Matty is faced with the necessity of choosing among competing allegiances – political affiliation, kinship, friendship, military competence. A narrator isn’t quick to reveal his own flaws, but we come to realize that Matty has issues as well. His back story is incomplete and only revealed in small pieces, but there are lurking family problems, compounded by a tragic involvement in the “Whiskey Rebellion” of 1794, that color Matty’s thoughts and actions.

Part of the pleasure of No Quarter is Campbell’s mastery of a (relatively) obscure corner of history. He manages, without the least bit of pedantry, to make the reader feel engaged and knowledgeable about the U.S. and Haiti in 1800. Campbell does not shy away from describing race relations at a time that we now cannot consider without shame. Many of Matty’s fellow officers are slave owners who enlist their slaves as crew. The sailors’ wages, of course, are pocketed by their owners. Not every character is insensible to the irony of asking these sailors to take part in actions supporting Haitian slaves who are rebelling against the French.

For all that, this is a cracking good yarn. Campbell makes sure that we are treated to plenty of action and his pacing makes this a can’t-put-it-down novel. He has a wicked sense of humor. The book is riddled with puns and allusions – literary and classical – most, but not all, of which are explained to reader so that we can share in laughing at whatever doltish character misses the joke.

There are all too many writers of Historic Naval Fiction whose characters utter inappropriately incorrect, even bizarre, French. It is a pleasure to encounter in Broos Campbell a writer who does not let that happen. Conversations written in English that are supposedly in French even show French structures and idioms: “…my friend, you are jumping from the rooster to the donkey.” Delicious. ( )
  pipester |
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This first book in the series introduces Matty Graves, midshipman in the early years of the United States Navy. In 1799, the young U.S. Navy faces France in an undeclared Quasi-War for the Caribbean. Matty Graves is caught up in escalating violence as he serves aboard the Rattle-Snake under his drunken cousin, Billy. Matty already knows how to handle the sails and fight a ship. Now, with the sarcastic Lieutenant Peter Wickett as his mentor and nemesis, he faces the ironies of a war where telling friend from foe is no mean trick.… (more)

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