Age of Sail / Alexander Kent / Book Series / Nautical Fiction / Richard Bolitho / Royal Navy

The Inshore Squadron, by Alexander Kent

This book tells another of the magnificent tales in the saga of Richard Bolitho. For readers of nautical fiction, this is one of the very good series set in the Age of Sail.

It is now September 1800. The theme for The Inshore Squadron is the British expedition against Denmark. Richard Bolitho is a freshly appointed rear-admiral. He receives orders to assume command of a squadron – four ships of the line, two frigates, and a sloop of war – and sail to the Baltic. However, the mission is much more complicated and dangerous than it seems, as Bolitho this time is manipulated by an invisible enemy within the ranks of the Royal Navy. As he sets out to execute his orders, information is withheld from him. However, Bolitho soon intercepts a French ship with a letter revealing information about the French intentions in the area, and it becomes clear that England must engage her enemies in the Baltic as well.

However, Bolitho is soon forced to realize that his experience, mainly gained in the line of battle, has not prepared him for the intricate maneuvering of power politics. Under his flag, the Inshore Squadron has to ride out the bitter hardship of blockade duty and the swift, deadly encounters with the enemy. But at the same time, an old hatred steps in from the past to pose a personal threat to him and his nephew Adam.

So in The Inshore Squadron, we find Bolitho fighting against the enemies of England. He wins a major engagement against a French squadron, but receives a musket bullet in his leg and is severely wounded. And at the same time, he is forced to fight against enemies of his family – to the point of getting involved in a duel. Also, he meets his wife to be, Belinda, and once more falls in love.

The Inshore Squadron is one of the better books in Alexander Kent’s superb series about Richard Bolitho. The story is very good, especially the part dealing with the Battle of Copenhagen, even though there is a little less naval action than I would have liked to see. Even so, the action is thrilling and the side stories very interesting for fans of the series.


“One of our foremost writers of naval fiction.”

–Sunday Times