In King, Ship, and Sword, we first meet Captain Lewrie on blockage on the Dutch coast, bloodthirsty and restless as always. He is bored by the blockade duty, and hungers for some real action. But instead of action, he is notified that England and France have negotiated a peace at Amiens. So now the dashing frigate captain has to go ashore on half pay.
And what is he to do? Go home to his wife and twiddle his thumbs and be bored to death? Idle in London? Peace is not to the liking of a rakehell!
In the end, after delaying it as long as possible, he goes home. To his once beloved wife who has learned about one or two too many of his various affairs with women over the years, and who now treats him like a distant, despised relative in his own house. After a long time, he somehow manages to wiggle back into her good graces, only to make another bad move by agreeing to go and see Paris with her. The stay there not only sees his wife Caroline coming face to face with several of the Ram-Cats previous lovers but also makes Alan catch the attention of old enemies wanting to see him dead. So instead of enjoying the second honeymoon in peace and quiet, Alan and Caroline are forced to run for their lives!
This is a slightly different book than the other books in this series. Dewey Lambdin this time – during the peace of Amiens – has written a book where most of the action takes place ashore. As readers of the Lord Ramage series might remember, Dudley Pope also had Lord Ramage and his wife go to France and wrote a book that mostly took place ashore about this time period for his hero. As have other authors. And Lambdin’s “Amiens book” is as inventive and exciting as those other “intermission books” dealing with what naval heroes do when they are unfortunate and peace catches up with them.
I liked King, Ship, and Sword, but not quite as much as most of the previous books. There was too little naval action in this book for my taste, and it took more than 300 pages before Captain Lewrie hoisted his colors on the heavily armed frigate HMS Reliant and was given a new mission. However, the naval action that is here is great – interesting tactics, good maneuvers, clever thinking, and great leadership – albeit a little too fast and furious.
Alan Lewrie continues to be one of my favorite naval heroes, and the series is clearly one of the very best nautical historical fiction series. Dewey Lambdin is an excellent storyteller, and the book is entertaining and interesting. However, I think this particular installment in the series is more for followers of the series than for new readers.