Book Review: Invasion: A Kydd Sea Adventure by Julian Stockwin

I received Invasion thanks to the LibraryThing Early Reader program. I get a free book, you get an honest review – and if you buy a copy, I get 4% from Amazon if you click the picture. I think that works out to about fifty cents 😉

Thomas Kydd is a commander in the Royal Navy, facing Napoleon’s fleet across the English Channel. Invasion is imminent, and Kydd has been placed at the front of the action. Then, he’s pulled off the front lines and asked to be the government liaison with an American inventor, one Mr. Robert Fulton. It’s not steamboats that His Majesty’s Navy is interested in, though — it’s Fulton’s submersibles and his torpedoes – and how much he’s told the French about them. Because the Royal Navy is outmatched, and Fulton’s high-tech firepower may be what tips the scale back in their favor.

Invasion is the 10th book in Stockwin’s Kydd Sea Adventures series. Right there you know there’s plenty of backstory that you don’t get in this book. Add to that the fact that the reader is dropped right into the middle of the action in chapter 1, as Kydd is demanding a hearing from his commanding admiral, Sir James Saumarez, to clear his name of charges leveled in previous books. I spent most of the first couple of chapters totally confused, which is part of the reason it’s taken me so long to finish this book (I got it back in September!). Add to that the thick dialect that much of the dialog is written in, and this one almost got put into the DNF pile.

But that would have been a shame, because the book is actually quite good. In a series as long-running as this one, you’re not going to see much characterization in individual books, but you will see a fast-moving plot with a lot of action. If you love the age of wooden ships and iron men, you will enjoy this book — and this series, for that matter. Stockwin, a former Naval officer himself, knows his stuff; if you don’t know a lot about the age of sail, you’ll learn from this series.

One of the abiding themes in this particular book seems to be the changing state of warfare at the time. We see some of this in the American Revolution, with the British constantly calling the American militia’s guerrilla tactics “ungentlemanly” and “against the rules of warfare.” In Invasion, we see this even more, as the Royal Navy debates the idea of using weapons that will essentially make warfare less personal, and probably less glamorous as well. The idea of using stealth to surprise an enemy was frowned upon back then; today, it is practically a requirement for any battle plan.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was ignorant of Fulton’s role in developing submarines back in the 1800s; in fact, when I first requested a copy of this book, I though that it was an alternate history because of that. So I learned something in reading the book, which is always a good thing, as I’ve mentioned before.

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One response to “Book Review: Invasion: A Kydd Sea Adventure by Julian Stockwin

  1. Invasion is my third try with Stockwin. (I’ve read the first, second and now tenth book of the series.) His writing is vivid. His knowledge of the ships and the period is solid. My problem is that his novels are so damned episodic and I am finding Kydd in particular to be somewhat two dimensional.

    I am having a very hard time finishing Invasion. I am 7/8 done, so I will plow on, but it is a hard slog to weather.

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