Lee Henschel Jr.
Courage & Desire in the Age of Revolution
When Admiral Nelson defeats the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile Owen Harriet attains the rank of midshipman.
Shortly thereafter his ship deploys to French Indochina, but at George Town he falls prey to a shameless trollop.
Upon arriving in the Mekong his squadron proceeds to destroy the French depot at Long Vinh. But during the operation a French privateer takes Owen prisoner. He risks all to escape and, after two years in the East, finally embarks for home.
In an ironic conclusion HMS Eleanor engages the frigate, Hommage, in unrestrained battle, only to learn the Treaty of Amiens was signed with the French on the very day they encountered Hommage.
As a result, their sacrifice means nothing, and must remain classified in order to preserve the fragile peace.
Paul Bennett says: Fascinating seaworthy tale. Conflict. Love. Commitment & Betrayal . . . all abound in this intrepid novel of the sea set in the Golden Age of Sail. The looming shadow of the Napoleonic War dims the waning glow of the Enlightenment, yet Owen Harriet’s heartfelt narrative provides insight into the human condition. And an overarching question emerges . . . is this chronicle simply the story of a man, or of an entire age? From the opening broadside at the Battle of the Nile to the ironic conclusion off Ushant, Owen continues to come of age, maintaining a steadfast relationship with his beloved mentor, Ignatius Comet Lau, HMS Eleanor’s esteemed Sailing Master. Deep within French Indochina. Lost on the Mekong River. Owen befriends an inscrutable boy monk, only to fall prey to a demonic French privateer. A powerful enigma continues to haunt Owen and he begins to understand. A premonition of unknown origin? An Oracle? Or a remnant calling from his own childhood imagination.
The Long Passage continues the development of young Owen Harriet, now a Midshipman aboard HMS Eleanor. The author has delivered a seaworthy tale that not only entertains, but is also rather instructive about life in the British Navy, and especially instructive on navigating the vastness of an ocean. Another aspect of the narrative that I enjoyed was the descriptive talent of the author. From the reed beds of The Mekong to the inquisitiveness of a blue whale, the reader is immersed in the scenery, and flinching from the sound and fury of a cannon volley. Owen grows up a lot on this journey through his innate intelligence and by his experiences, some of which are rather harrowing, and I look forward to reading more of his adventures. I highly recommend both books of The Sailing Master series. 5 stars