Title: A Sea Unto Itself
Author: Jay Worrall
Genre: Historical Fiction, British, Espionage, Napoleon Bonaparte
Publisher: Fireship Press (and courtesy of NetGalley)
Published: September 21, 2013
Page Amount: 283 pages
Blurb From Goodreads: The year is 1799. The year before, Napoleon Bonaparte, the newest upstart among Republican France’s generals, led a large expeditionary force across the Mediterranean to conquer Egypt, where he remains. Well enough; but why? France’s enemies are in Europe, not Africa. Egypt, the fabled land of the Pharaohs, is of no earthly use to this young Napoleon. Or is it? Could it be that Egypt is intended only as a stepping stone for an invasion of Britain’s troubled colonies in India? Incredible though it seems, such a threat could deprive England of the great source of its wealth and devastate her ability to continue the war against her revolutionary enemy. It has long been known to colonial powers that Egypt is a corner stone to domination of Europe and Napoleon well knows that control of the Red Sea is crucial to his plans.
Charles Edgemont, newly appointed Captain of the Frigate Cassandra, 32, is ordered on what he initially considers a fool’s errand to the foot of the Red Sea. He finds an under-strength crew on the point of mutiny, and an unresolved murder. Near the entrance to the Red Sea, Charles reports to Admiral Sir John Blankett. Blankett is openly contemptuous of any notion that the French would make any other attempt to invade the subcontinent.
Admiral Blankett is wrong.
Why Read: Another book fed by NetGalley. This one caught my eye as it was in the historical fiction section (one of my favorite kinds), and had to do with the Napoleonic times. So it was obvious I would find it.
Review: Surprising even myself, I found the historical fiction book that focused on seafaring to an enormous extent a decent read. I was nervous at first, as normally books that like to talk about the trade are difficult to read. However, A Sea Unto Itself had other elements of characters and interesting questions about slavery embedded within it.
Plot-wise, there were problems with the book such as the long stretches of time where the captain and crew are at sea – and don’t do much. But there were also great plot devices that I appreciated and really loved seeing. One example of this is the slave subplot that enters at the beginning and continues on through the book.
The characters made up for the slow parts of the book. The struggle of Captain Charles between his wife and another women, combined with the combined mutiny of the crew and dynamics of the spies were exciting and I grit my teeth the whole way through. The ending, though I won’t give anything away, really revealed one of the characters to me – and I’m sure you’ll find them as hilariously funny and inordinately smile-worthy as I did.
Although there were some pitfalls, I really did enjoy the sea book and I’m sure that many others would enjoy it so long as they are okay with the language of the past and the year of 1799.
Rating: 4.3/5 Stars
Review Coming Soon: The Legal Language of Terrorism by Cuauhtemoc Gallegos