Uprising is the second book in Winston’s naval fiction series featuring Jonathan Kinkaid. In the first novel, Independent Action, we followed Lt. Kinkaid on a very successful mission in the North Atlantic and through a difficult period in captivity. Now Jonathan Kinkaid is promoted to Captain in the United States Navy and given his own ship, Swift, a 12 gun brig. This time his mission brings him not to the dark and hard North Atlantic, but rather to the far more exotic West Indies.
Interestingly, it is not only the location that makes Uprising a very different book from Independent Action. The first book in some ways reminded me of the darker novels in Richard Woodman’s series about Nathaniel Drinkwater – a little melancholic, very realistic. Given this, I was actually somewhat surprised when I started to read Uprising: the whole tone and style are quite different. If the first book was like one of the “darker” of the Drinkwater novels, this was almost like one of the lighter novels in Dudley Pope’s Lord Ramage series: A fast-moving, imaginative, not all that realistic but very entertaining light and positive tale.
Uprising tells an enormous tale. It starts simple enough: Kinkaid is to transport an American diplomat to the Dutch free port of St. Eustatia in the Caribbean. It seems easy, and it is fairly straight forward. But now the real fun starts: we follow Kinkaid as he aligns himself with a pirate and a crazy man and assists in one of the wildest uprisings against British rule you will ever read. From there he goes on to capture an English navy ship much larger than his own, in a raid so daring that it compares to some of the most mind-blowing raids by Lord Ramage. And just when you think it is all overcomes a long sequence with an all-out fight against a smart and exceedingly well-armed West Indian pirate – a battle requiring all the toughness and intelligence our hero Jonathan Kinkaid and his shipmates can muster.
It is all here: deceit, courage, sacrifice, heroics, love, and pirates, as well as hard-fought battles on land and at sea. One second the champagne sparkles, and shortly thereafter the cannon roars and people die. Uprising is very entertaining and a joy to read – and now I just wonder how Michael Winston can possibly meet my expectations in his next novel in this series?