Any Approaching Enemy, by Jay Worrall

by Peter on December 22, 2010

In this sequel to the wonderful Sails on the Horizon, it is now 1798, and young Charles Edgemont is captain of the 28-gun frigate HMS Louisa. France’s Napoleon Bonaparte is Any Approaching Enemy, by Jay Worrall winning on land and Britain controls the seas. But Napoleon mobilizes a large French fleet, and seeks to invade Egypt and possibly continue on to India and attack British possessions there.

Not knowing where the French fleet is going, Edgemont joins rear admiral Horatio Nelson’s squadron in the Mediterranean to search for the French fleet. Then a storm separates them, and Captain Charles Edgemont leads the Louisa and its companion brig Pylades on a treacherous voyage across the Mediterranean in search of Nelson. And while Edgemont searches for Nelson, he accidently learns the location of the French fleet at Alexandria, Egypt, from an English spy. After some misfortunes, Edgemont finally locates Nelson and goes with his fleet to Egypt. As we know, Nelson engages the French fleet there in one of the greatest naval battles ever – the Battle of the Nile.

Penny Edgemont, an independent, original and extremely strong willed Quaker, who played a prominent part in the first book and gave it a lift, appears in this book as well, visiting her husband on his ship. Here, however, I feel Worrall makes a little too much of her. Even though some of the scenes are funny and interesting – as when she states to her husband that she will “manage thy properties” and gives him a lesson – she interferes a little too much, very close to the point where she becomes a nuisance rather than an asset in the book.

Worrall knows nautical history well. His characters are good and interesting, even though he perhaps makes a little too much of Penny this time. The plot is good as well. Even so, Any Approaching Enemy is not quite up to the standards set in the first novel in this nautical fiction series. I recommend it only to people who – like me – have read the first book in the series.

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