Age of Sail / Alexander Kent / Book Review / Book Series / Richard Bolitho

Alexander Kent: Signal – Close Action!

In this installment in Alexander Kent’s excellent series about Richard Bolitho, the action takes place in 1798. Napoleon is concentrating his forces in the Mediterranean. He is preparing to annex Egypt. And now the newly promoted Commodore Richard Bolitho is sent to the Mediterranean with a small squadron of ships: three seventy-fours, a thirty-two gun frigate, and a sloop of war. Since the majority of the British fleet is tied up on blockade duty in the Atlantic, his squadron is the sole projection of British naval might on this side of Gibraltar. His responsibility is massive and his powers fairly wide.

Commodore Bolitho knows that his own future is at stake, but also that the future of England hinges on his decisions and that, as he places his squadron between the Nile and the power of France, he must accept the price of the challenge.

In Signal Close Action, Bolitho must weather illness, conflict with his old friend Herrick, betrayal, and a ferocious battle with a French squadron in the Corfu Channel before he can lay his ship alongside the enemy in the climactic Battle of the Nile.

Signal Close Action is among my favorites in the Bolitho series. As usual, Alexander Kent displays great familiarity with the historical context as well as with naval life and naval battle. The storytelling is wonderful as well. There is a lot of attention to detail, superb phrasing, and good character descriptions and development. The naval action in this book is second to none. Signal Close Action is historical fiction at its best. Overall this series is one of the best naval fiction series from the period known as the Age of Sail.

See many more reviews of nautical fiction books at Horatio Hornblower, Richard Delancey, Thomas Kydd, Alan Lewrie, and other series!