BOOK REVIEW: THE JACKASS FRIGATE

This is the second book in Alaric Bond’s “Fighting Sail” series. I previously reviewed the first book in the series, His Majesty’s Ship, on this blog.

Like His Majesty’s Ship, Mr. Bond does a fine job with this tale of the voyage of Pandora (the jackass frigate herself). What is a jackass frigate, you ask? I will encourage you to read the book to find out.

There are many series of novels in the sub-genre of Age of Sail fiction. However, I have found only a few whose first book encouraged me to read further in the series. Mr. Bond’s first effort, however, did so entice me to travel onward. The Jackass Frigate did not disappoint, and I look forward to the rest of the series.

What attracts me the most to the “Fighting Sail” series is Bond’s attention to the men of the lower deck. So much of this genre is populated by characters who are officers in the Royal Navy, so Bond’s approach is refreshing. While he does not neglect the upper ranks, the common jack tar gets equal billing.

Like the first book, The Jackass Frigate has multiple viewpoint characters, sometimes changing within individual scenes, but Bond has the ability to keep the reader’s focus clear. His relatively short scenes and forward flow of narrative makes the book an easy read.

One of the sub-plots I enjoyed was the “ghost” who appeared here and there throughout most of the story, though I admit I almost wished that thread had run a bit longer. However, I can see why Bond revealed the truth behind the “ghost” because shortly thereafter is when the book crescendos to its climactic scene–a fleet action with the Spanish, during which the Pandora serves as signal ship for the British line-of-battle ships.

I’m not someone who reads historical fiction to “meet” real-life people as characters, but I did enjoy Bond including the famous Lord Nelson in the final battle. This was the first time I had seen an author rise to that challenge, and Bond does a seamless treatment of the fabled naval hero.

Stay tuned for a review of the series’ third installment, True Colours.

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