Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - FictionThe Winds of Folly The Sea of Silence
Twice before the man facing Nathan Peake has tried to kill him, yet now he offers what Nathan craves – command of a ship in time of peace. Even so, experience has taught him not to trust Gilbert Imlay, especially since what he reveals is often only a portion of what is necessary to know. His plan may seem to advance the interests of the Americans and the British, but their previous encounters have taught Nathan that, in reality, it promotes Imlay’s own. Trusting a spy is rarely a good thing. Imlay has the support of the First Lord of the Admiralty and Admiral Lord Nelson, who brings the two together. Instinct warns Nathan to refuse, but out of courtesy to his former commander, he listens to Imlay.
The current cessation of hostilities between England and France after many years of fighting is merely an interlude. Napoleon Bonaparte still rules, which means he has plans to expand his domain. Since the Royal Navy no longer enforces its blockade of the French coast, a French fleet of eighty ships carrying 20,000 troops has sailed for the West Indies. They intend to put down the slave rebellion on Saint-Domingue, using whatever means are necessary. Once peace is restored the island will be the staging grounds to launch an invasion on Louisiana, where Napoleon intends to establish a second empire. Imlay proposes, with Nathan’s help, to throw a wrench in those plans by running guns to Toussaint Louverture, the rebel leader. The longer he and his men can delay French forces, the less likely Napoleon’s grand scheme will come to fruition.
Rather than refuse outright, Nathan agrees to view the captured French corvette. She’s relatively new and well-manned. The sea calls and Nathan is torn. Better to think things through overnight. As he places greater distance between him and the vessel, Nathan resolves to decline the invitation . . . until a trusted friend visits him with news. One of their acquaintances has been arrested – an unforeseen complication with a resolution that alters Nathan’s decision to work with Imlay. What could possibly go wrong?
This is the seventh novel in the Nathan Peake series, but can be read as a stand-alone novel. It takes place early in the first decade of the nineteenth century and combines intrigue with smuggling, a sea chase and sea battle, mass murder, and treachery. It features two of Napoleon’s siblings, as well as General Charles Victor-Emmanuel Leclerc and Touissant Louverture. Several other historical personages make cameo appearances. Fans of Peake will enjoy this addition to the series. Several scenes involve thrilling action or unbelievable horrors, while the tidbits about the past may entice new readers to discover the earlier titles of Nathan Peake’s adventures.
Review Copyrighted ©2021 Cindy Vallar
The Winds of Folly
By Seth Hunter
McBooks Press, 2016, ISBN 9781590137055, $18.95
Also available in e-book formats
It is 1796 and General Napoleon Bonaparte leads the French Army against the Austrians. If he succeeds, they will lose the Italian provinces and leave Britain to fight alone. While the Council of Ten in Venice prefers to remain neutral in this war, the Venetian admiral would form an alliance with England and lead his navy in the fight against the aggressors. For a price. But before negotiations are completed, Il Diavolo (the Devil) has his assassins kill the admiral.
Nathaniel Peake captains HMS Unicorn and, having had a successful voyage, he looks forward to receiving the hefty sum his captured prizes will bring. Arriving at Leghorn, a major center of trade in the Mediterranean, he finds the city under attack from land, the citizens attempting to flee by sea, and French corsairs lurking on the horizon. Not only is he tasked with escorting the convoy of rescue ships, he must defend them against these sea marauders and transport the paramours of some officers, including Commodore Nelson, to safety. The last proves a trying and irritating duty that results in the loss of his quarters, but he succeeds in delivering the ladies as ordered.
Nelson and the British ambassador believe Nathan is the perfect candidate for a secret mission because of his previous service as the King’s agent. He needs to re-establish contact with Venice, notify the admiral that his price has been met, keep the Venetians from forming an alliance with France, and assess the seaworthiness and capabilities of the Venetian fleet. At the same time, he must take soundings of the harbors and lagoons while hunting down French corsairs prowling the Adriatic Sea. What he is not to do is to become embroiled in the politics of Venice, but that seems less likely when he hears rumors of the admiral’s death. Now he must confirm this report and determine if there is another willing to work with the British to stop Napoleon, and this requires him to enlist the assistance of the Deputy Prioress of a convent where the sisters are known for their gambling casino and carnal knowledge.
But Il Diavolo dispenses his own brand of justice in the name of the Venetian Republic and he knows of Nathan’s presence. He will do whatever is necessary to dispose of the British intruder, and it could cost Nathan his life.
Hunter includes several maps to orient readers unfamiliar with the region, as well as an author’s note explaining the history behind the novel. Since there are a variety of winds specific to the Mediterranean, he provides a brief explanation of these since they play important roles in the story.
This is the fourth installment in the Nathan Peake series, but readers unfamiliar with previous tales will have no problem following this story. (There are sufficient clues to tantalize such readers to go back and read these titles.) In many ways the opening chapters of The Winds of Folly mimic what it is like to sail aboard a wooden ship – manic high drama of short duration interspersed with long and tedious periods of mundane daily activity. Readers who survive the delivery of the officers’ women are richly rewarded with edge-of-your-seat adventure and dangerous intrigues that end with several unexpected and surprising twists.
Review Copyrighted ©2016 Cindy Vallar
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