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 Alexander Kent: Heart of Oak 
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Post Alexander Kent: Heart of Oak
I ought to say from the start that I've always got a soft spot for AK; one of his Bolitho novels being where I started off with the genre so I feel I owe him some allegiance for embarking me on a wonderful voyage of discovery.

However, I did honestly wonder how I would approach this latest from AK seeing as I can't stand Adam Bolitho, and I thought Band of Brothers disappointing, etc, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised! Apart from the annoyances of occasionally writing in verb-less sentences, this novel was a return to the Bolithos sort of en masse with a much needed dose of the Happy Few; old faces popping up from time to time. I won't reveal any of the plot, but it is a pleasant mix of "business" and home.

Just a point.... I did, however, wonder if a first time reader of Bolitho would ever have worked out who Elizabeth was and if this book could have been read as a successful stand alone story. I'd be interested in what anyone else has to say on that in due course. It's not a sole criticism of AK; it's a question I sometimes ask myself of other series.

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Thu Feb 01, 2007 9:15 am
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Post Alexander Kent: Heart of Oak
Alexander Kent: Heart of Oak

Mary, I'm glad you liked it. Since I like both the Richard and Adam character books, I am now sure I will like this book when it is available for sale here in America (in about four weeks, Feb. 27, I think, is the date at Amazon).

Don


Thu Feb 01, 2007 12:17 pm
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Post Re: Alexander Kent: Heart of Oak
Mil Goose wrote:
I was pleasantly surprised! Apart from the annoyances of occasionally writing in verb-less sentences, this novel was a return to the Bolithos sort of en masse with a much needed dose of the Happy Few; old faces popping up from time to time. I won't reveal any of the plot, but it is a pleasant mix of "business" and home.

Just a point.... I did, however, wonder if a first time reader of Bolitho would ever have worked out who Elizabeth was and if this book could have been read as a successful stand alone story. I'd be interested in what anyone else has to say on that in due course. It's not a sole criticism of AK; it's a question I sometimes ask myself of other series.

I just finished this book and realized that it has been much too long between books in this series. And... I am already anxious for the next one. I guess that you can gather that I liked it... very much.

I think that Kent/Reeman was pretty clever in creating an exciting story-line set during peacetime. The last few sentences were a perfect finale. He is a great storyteller.

Your Question about Elizabeth: I don't think that a new reader tackling this book as a stand alone would really know who Elizabeth was except superficially. They would find out that she is young, beautiful, and privileged. They would certainly know that she is loved from afar by a young midshipman. Of course, she has no desire to marry a sailor but they might not know why she feels this way. They would realize that she is the daughter of an Admiral (but not which one). They would have to guess whether her last name was Roxby or Bolitho. They would not know any of the rich history that the series' fans know about her and her mother.

I think that someone reading this book (without any previous series experience) would find it difficult to wade through the large number of names from the Bolitho "family" who are very briefly introduced. I think this is similar to picking up any AOS fictional book (series or not) and finding it difficult to understand all the technical details of that era.

I recently had dinner with my nephew and his new girlfriend. I asked her if she had ever watched the "Master and Commander...." movie. She had watched the beginning and then turned it off. It was meaningless to her. It wouldn't have been meaningless to those who have read or studied British AOS but she had none of that.

The many "family" names might actually be a turn-off for new readers who just happened to pick up this book. To me, just a few paragraphs about John Allday, Lady Catherine Somervell, Young Matthew, Daniel Yovell, and the others was like meeting old friends after a long absence... but I cannot imagine a new reader having that same feeling. And... there is no way to know all the wonderful things we series' fans know about Sir Richard from the few references.

Don


Sat Mar 24, 2007 3:58 am
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That is an interesting comment about "Master and Commander." My friend hates historical movies but she saw M&C and loved it very much and said she was pleasantly surprised. Maybe a person has to be in the right mood for it.


Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:12 am
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You're right about "being in the mood for it" Lady Burgundy. I know it's a bit off subject, but wife sat through the complete series of 'Band of Brothers' (Stephen Ambrose), with just time to pour the odd glass of wine between DVD's. She thoroughly enjoyed it, because she was able to understand the characters and the history.
Now then, I do not have a Hornblower or Bolitho book to my name. Should I begin these series with the first novels?

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Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:35 pm
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I put my vote in for Hornblower! :D

I started with the first one, but I had already seen the TV series. I bought six novels in two compliations at first: <i>The Young Hornblower</i> and <i>Captian Hornblower</i>.


Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:49 pm
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Right then. I've a holiday coming up this Thursday so need to take a good book or two. I'll try to read with the waves gently lapping in the background.

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Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:40 pm
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