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Success to the Brave is the fifteenth Richard Bolitho story and chronologically it follows the events covered by A Tradition of Victory.
In the spring of 1802 Richard Bolitho is summoned to the Admiralty in London and given his orders for a difficult and, to him, distasteful task. Even an advanced promotion to vice-admiral to make him one of the youngest ever appointed does not compensate for his sudden and thankless mission. Bolitho and his wife are expecting their first child, and for once he is loath to quit the land for the demands of duty.
The Peace of Amiens, signed a few weeks earlier, is already showing signs of strain as the old enemies wrangle over the return of colonial possessions won and lost during the war. In the little sixty-four-gun Achates Bolitho sails West for Boston, and thence to the Caribbean where he must hand over the island of San Felipe to the French.
Bolitho discovers that to be a man of diplomacy is not enough, and as threat and counter-threat weave a web of intrigue around his lonely command he balances success against the danger to the men who must follow him even to the cannon's mouth.
The tenth Richard Bolitho novel in Alexander Kent's spectacularly successful series deals with Bolitho's life as a young lieutenant aboard the Trojan, an eighty-gun ship of the line.
The year is 1777 when the revolution in America has erupted into a full-scale war. The navy's main task is to prevent military supplies from reaching Washington's armies and to destroy the fast-growing fleet of French and American privateers. As a junior officer Bolitho is often bewildered by swiftly changing events, but in a ship of the line, under a hard and determined captain, he has little opportunity for uncertainty. At a time of shortages and sudden death even a lieutenant can find himself faced with tasks and decisions more suitably given to officers of greater experience - and as the Trojan goes about her affairs the threat to Bolitho and his companions makes itself felt from New York to the Caribbean.
It is February 1818, and Adam Bolitho longs for marriage and a safe personal harbour. But with so much of Britain's fleet redundant, he knows he is fortunate to be offered H.M.S. Onward, a new 38-gun frigate whose first mission is not war but diplomacy, as consort to the French frigate Nautilus.
Under the burning sun of North Africa, Bolitho is keenly aware of the envy and ambition among his officers, the troubled, restless spirits of his midshipmen, and the old enemy's proximity. It is only when Nautilus becomes a sacrificial offering on the altar of empire that every man discovers the brotherhood of the sea is more powerful than the bitter memories of an ocean of blood and decades of war.
Published: 3 Jan 2008
On the eve of Waterloo, a sense of finality and cautious hope pervade a nation wearied by decades of war. But peace will present its own challenge to Adam Bolitho, captain of His Majesty's Ship Unrivalled, as many of his contemporaries face the prospect of discharge.
The life of a frigate captain is always lonely, but for Adam, mourning the death of his uncle Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho, that solitude acquires a deeper poignancy. He is, more than ever, alone, at the dawning of a new age for the Royal Navy, where the only constants are the sea and those enemies, often masked in the guise of friendship, who conspire to destroy him.
With convoys from Canada and the Caribbean falling victim to American privateers, Sir Richard Bolitho returns to Halifax to pursue a war he knows will not be won, but which neither Britain nor the United States can afford to lose.
England's youngest admiral desires only peace. But peace will not be found in the icy Canadian waters, where a young, angry nation asserts its identity and men who share a common heritage die in close and bloody action. Nor will there be a peace for those who follow the Cross of St George: for the embittered Adam, mourning his lover and his ship, nor for Rear-Admiral Valentine Keen, who must confront both grief and responsibility. Nor will there be peace from those enemies who use this struggle between nations as an instrument of personal revenge.
Colours Aloft!, the sixteenth Richard Bolitho novel, bears all the hallmarks of its best-selling predecessors.
Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho finds himself the new master of the Argonaute, a French flagship taken in battle. With the Peace of Armiens in ruins, he must leave the safety of Falmouth.
What lies ahead is the grim reality of war at close quarters - where Bolitho who will be called upon to anticipate the overall intention of the French fleet. But the battle has also become a personal vendetta between himself and the French admiral who formerly sailed the Argonaute.
Bolitho and his men are driven to a final rendezvous where no quarter is asked or given.
When in 1798 Richard Bolitho hoists his broad pendant as commodore of a small squadron and prepares to re-enter the Mediterranean he is soon made aware of his responsibility. There are rumours of a massive French armada and of the latest type of artillery - and Bolitho's orders are to seek out the enemy and to discover the intentions of his growing force.
Without any British bases in the Mediterranean, and unable to show favour to old friends, Bolitho is well aware that there are others within his ships who are no less dangerous than the enemy - and during the weeks and months in which the squadron faces the hazards of the weather and French broadsides alike, Bolitho knows that far more than his own future is at stake. A fleet, even a nation, could depend on his decisions and, when he places his squadron between the Nile and the power of France, he must accept the price of the challenge.
Adam Bolitho's orders are unequivocal. As captain of His Majesty's frigate Unrivalled of forty-six guns, he is required to 'repair in the first instance to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and reasonably assist the senior officer of the patrolling squadron. But all efforts of the British anti-slavery patrols to curb a flourishing trade in human life are hampered by unsuitable ships, by the indifference of a government more concerned with old enemies made distrustful allies, and by the continuing belligerence of the Dey of Algiers, which threatens to ignite a full-scale war.
For Adam, also, there is no peace. Lost in grief and loneliness, his uncle's death still unavenged, he is uncertain of all but his identity as a man of war. The sea is his element, the ship his only home, and a reckless, perhaps doomed attack on an impregnable stronghold his only hope of settling the bitterest of debts.
Every harbour and estuary is filled with ghostly ships, the famous and the legendary now redundant in the aftermath of the war. In this uneasy peace, Adam Bolitho is fortunate to be offered the seventy-four gun Athena, and as flag captain to Vice-Admiral Sir Graham Bethune once more follows his destiny to the Caribbean.
But in these haunted waters where Richard Bolitho and his 'band of brothers' once fought a familiar enemy, the quarry is now a renegade foe who flies no colours and offers no quarter, and whose traffic in human life is sanctioned by flawed treaties and men of influence. And here, and when Athena's guns speak, a day of terrible retribution will dawn for the innocent and the damned.
As 1794 draws to a close Richard Bolitho, commanding the old seventy-four-gun ship of the line Hyperion, leaves Plymouth to join a squadron blockading the rising power of Revolutionary France. After six months of repairs his ship is ready to fight again, but her company is mostly raw and untrained.
Unfortunately, Bolitho finds himself under a commodore who is no match for the French admiral, Lequiller, whose powerful squadron uses guile and ruthless determination to elude him and vanish into the Atlantic. Hyperion, as part of a small British force, gives chase, the desperate voyage taking them from the Bay of Biscay's squall to the heat of the Caribbean - and for each mile sailed and every battle fought Bolitho finds himself being forced into the ever more demanding role of strategist and squadron commander.
For the young Richard Bolitho the spring of 1778 marked a complete transformation for himself and his future. It was the year in which the American War of Independence changed to an all-out struggle for freedom from British rule - and the year when Bolitho took command of the Sparrow, a small, fast and well-armed sloop of war.
As the pace of war increased, the Sparrow was called from one crisis to another - and when the great fleets of Britain and France convened on the Chesapeake, Bolitho had to throw aside the early dreams of his first command to find maturity in a sea battle that might decide the fate of a whole continent.
The frigate carrying Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho drops anchor off the shores of southern Africa. It is only four months since the resounding victory over the combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, and the death of England's greatest naval hero.
Bolitho's instructions are to assist in hastening the campaign in Africa, where an expeditionary force is attempting to recapture Cape Town from the Dutch. Outside Europe few have yet heard of the battle of Trafalgar, and Bolitho's news is met with both optimism and disappointment as he reminds the senior officers that, despite the victory, Napolean's defeat is by no means assured. The men who follow Bolitho's flag into battle are to discover, not for the first time, that death is the only victor.
Published: 2 Nov 2006
Returning safely to England after the dramatic capture of Martinque, Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho finds an all too brief respite from war and politics in the arms of his mistress Catherine Somervell.
But the shadow of a new conflict already darkens the horizon. The old enemy, France, forges an uneasy alliance with America - threatening the safety of British trade routes. Although ordered immediately to the Indian Ocean, for the first time Bolitho's thoughts are not of glory but his own - and the Navy's - past.
Both Nelson and Collingwood died in their country's service. For the navy's newest Admiral, is there life beyond the sea itself?
In the spring of 1797 Richard Bolitho brings the 100-gun Euryalus home to Falmouth to be flagship of the hastily formed squadron which has been chosen to make the first British re-entry to the Mediterranean for nearly a year. As flag captain, Bolitho is made to contend with the unyielding attitudes of his new admiral, as well as the devious requirements of the squadron's civilian advisor.
England is still stunned by the naval mutiny at Spithead, in which Bolitho's admiral was personally involved, and as the squadron sets sail the air is already alive with rumour of an even greater uprising in the ships at the Nore. Only when the squadron is drawn to a bloody embrace with the enemy does the admiral see the strength in Bolitho's trust and care for his men - but by then it is almost too late for any of them.
It is January 1819, and Captain Adam Bolitho ships out from Falmouth bound for Freetown, on the old the slave coast of Africa. H.M.S. Onward carries sealed orders in the strongbox below deck. But why all the secrecy and apparent urgency? And why Onward, so soon after the Mediterranean, and that bloody action with Nautilus?
On their way back into port having completed their mission, the crew of the Onward spy the debris of an allied frigate, destroyed as if taken by surprise. Bodies are strewn among the shark-infested waters and no enemy in sight. A single word frozen on the lips of the dead. Mutiny. The men begin to question who is friend and who is foe.
All is not well aboard the Onward; envy and hunger for power consume some of the crew, but they must band together and risk their lives, in the name of the King. A searing and gripping tale of trouble on the high seas, and of the weakness of the human spirit, In the King's Name heralds the return of our greatest living maritime writer and the legendary Adam Bolitho..
All is not well aboard the Onward; envy and hunger for power consume some of the crew, but they must band together and risk their lives together, in the name of the King. A searing and gripping tale of trouble on the high seas, and of the weakness of the human spirit, In the King's Name heralds the return of our greatest living maritime writer and the legendary Adam Bolitho.
A troubled peace with France means that in the harbours and estuaries around England, the royal fleet has been left to rot. Even a frigate captain as famous as Richard Bolitho is forced to swallow his pride and visit the Admiralty daily to plead for a ship. As the clouds of war begin to rise once more over the Channel, he has no choice but to accept an appointment to the Nore.
With his small flotilla of three topsail cutters Bolitho sets out to search the coast for seamen who have fled the harsh discipline of His Majesty's Navy for the more tempting rewards of smuggling. But the 'Brotherhood' he comes up against are brutal and dangerous with a secret, sinister trade in human misery. Treason is never far distant and murder commonplace. So when a King's ransom is in peril and Bolitho is ordered to proceed 'with all despatch' to recover it he will need all the loyalty and courage of his three gallant cutters if he is to fulfil his mission.
In March 1808, as Napoleon holds Portugal and threatens his old ally Spain, Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho is dispatched once more to the Cape of Good Hope to establish a permanent naval force there.
Setting aside his bitter memories and the anguish of a friendship betrayed, Bolitho takes passage in the ill-fated Golden Plover. With him sail others commanded by duty and lured by danger - and those who wish only to escape.
But when shipwreck and disaster overtake the Golden Plover off the desolate coast of Africa, neither the innocent nor the damned are spared. Beyond the tortured hell of the reef, Bolitho's battle begins - to summon the survivors' last reserves of courage and of hope.
June 1793, Gibraltar - The gathering might of revolutionary France prepares to engulf Europe in another bloody war. As in the past, Britain will stand or fall by the fighting power of her fleet. For Richard Bolitho, the renewal of hostilities means a fresh command and the chance of action after long months of inactivity.
However, his mission to support Lord Hood in the monarchist-inspired occupation of Toulon has gone awry. Bolitho and the crew of the Hyperion are trapped by the French near a dry Mediterranean island. The great ship-of-the-line's battered hull begins to groan as her sails snap in the hot wind.
Another thrilling Bolitho adventure from the master of navel fiction, Alexander Kent (pseudonym for Douglas Reeman).
After two and a half months of precious peace in Cornwall with his beloved mistress Catherine, Admiral Richard Bolitho is once again summoned to London. In defence of an Empire, the Admiralty must quell the unrest in America - or face the war with those who were once friends. For when diplomacy fails, the cannon will speak.
For his daring mission, Bolitho must call on the loyalty of his most trusted officers - and the trust of those he loves the most. Distance too is their enemy, as the Indomitable leads the fleet from Plymouth towards the rich merchant grounds of the Americas.
In the troubled seas from Antigua north to Halifax, Admiral Bolitho's revolutionary 'flying squadron' will face their first and harshest test. For a country's freedom. For a hero's right to turn his back on the sea ...
Published: 13 May 2010