Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Fiction
The George Abercrombie Fox Series
Most lovers of Age of Sail naval fiction have never even heard of this fourteen-book series. Some may have come across one or two paperback titles at a used-book sale. In the entire world, according to OCLC’s WorldCat database, most of the books have three or fewer copies scattered among every public library in the world. Although actually written by Kenneth Bulmer, under one of his many pseudonyms, the books never received any critical acclaim. One reason for this lack of praise is the length of each book, at only 118 to 160 pages each.
Most likely, it is a result of the main character’s fictional pedigree and uncouth behavior. Despised by most of the senior and wardroom officers George Fox encounters, he is clearly not Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey or Alexander Kent’s Richard Bolitho. Although Fox comes through the hawsehole to the quarterdeck he is, if anything, the antithesis of Julian Stockwin’s Thomas Kydd. Instead of meeting The Admiral’s Daughter (Kydd Sea Adventures, book 8), Fox has an illicit affair with the Captain’s wife (Prize Money, book 3) who’s living aboard their ship!
But one thing that’s clear from the onset is that every book in this series is a great read. If you like action you, won’t be disappointed because Fox is a fighter! Whether he’s bullied as a Powder Monkey or commanding from the quarterdeck, he is as brilliant a tactician as he is when aiming or commanding the great guns, or repelling boarders with unrivalled intensity.
He starts life by being born in the gutter when the excitement surrounding his uncle Abercrombie’s hanging becomes too much for his mother. Hence his fancy middle name. He is raised as a Thames marsh boy, learning to hunt birds using a pebble in a sling. With too many children to raise and not enough work, Fox is sent to live with Uncle Ebeneezer and hears his stories of being in the Royal Navy and earning “prize money.” Soon Fox realizes joining the Royal Navy offers him the best chance to help his family to survive.
As a Powder Monkey he is given the worst jobs, ordered about by anyone on the lower deck, and bullied by the Midshipmen, especially the one who is a member of the nobility. The only way Fox has to end this harassment, as well as the rough life everyone has while serving on the lower deck, is to advance all the way to the quarterdeck. He despises all gentlemen and isn’t interested in emulating them, but that isn’t going to stop him from achieving his goal.
In spite of his origins, he is smart and has an excellent memory. He learns everything about his ship and tries to be the best at his duties. But he comes to understand that none of this matters without “interest.”
His opportunity for patronage comes when he saves the life of another ship’s Captain. That Captain has Fox transferred to his own ship where Fox becomes a Midshipman and later passes the test to become a commissioned Lieutenant. Shortly afterwards his Captain dies in battle and Fox loses the only “interest” he has.
With his country at war he stays employed. Magnificent in battle, he never receives the credit he deserves, which is the only way he will ever be advanced to Post-Captain. Achieving that promotion will drastically increase his share of the prize money for his family.
His career places him in a number of battles, including single-ship actions and fleet battles. He is also with Sir William Sidney Smith at the Siege of Acre, which costs Napoleon so many lives and months that the French never invade the Ottoman Empire or India.
Now Amazon has made the entire series available in correct chronological order for $7.99 each in paperback or $2.99 each on Kindle. So if you’re looking for much more intense and realistic action sequences, and won’t really miss reading the daily life details that add hundreds of pages to other nautical fiction books, Fox is ready to lead you into battle!
Just look at these titles if you’re still not convinced there’s enough action packed into less than 200 pages:
1. Powder Monkey (ISBN 978-1523487455)
2. Press Gang (ISBN 978-1523610945)
3. Prize Money (ISBN 978-1523750597)
4. Siege (ISBN 978-1523908738)
5. Treasure (ISBN 978-1523980697)
6. Blood for Breakfast (ISBN 978-1530039722)
7. Court Martial (ISBN 978-1530148639)
8. Battle Smoke (ISBN 978-1530201129)
9. Cut and Thrust (ISBN 978-1530283491)
10. Boarders Away (ISBN 978-1530339945)
11. Fireship (ISBN 978-1530416981)
12. Blood Beach (ISBN 978-1530458318)
13. Sea Flame (ISBN 978-1530535255)
14. Close Quarters (ISBN 978-1530598687)
Book review Copyrighted © 2016 by Irwin Bryan
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