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 Tom Grundner: "The Midshipman Prince" 
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Post Tom Grundner: "The Midshipman Prince"
Tom Grundner: "The Midshipman Prince" (#1 in the Sir Sidney Smith series)

I wonder if anyone here has read the book above or its sequel "HMS Diamond" (SSS #2)? There seems to be some very positive comments at Amazon.com (both US and UK). I thought maybe someone here who reads a lot of fiction and non-fiction about SSS would venture to share his or her opinions. Additionally, Mr. Grundner published "The Temple" in 2009. I suspect that this is the 3rd in the series but the Amazon Description does not confirm this.

I see that Tom Grundner joined the Forum in 2005 but has only posted once: asking Susan to use some of the information at Sailing Navies. Research for his books? If he is still checking the Forum, maybe he would like to comment on the series. Is "The Temple" the 3rd? Are more in the works?

I noted that Tom is the author of "The Ramage Companion" and co-authored a non-fiction history of SSS titled "Overlooked Hero".

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Corcyraeans to the Athenians, 433 BC


Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:58 pm
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Post Re: Tom Grundner: "The Midshipman Prince"
timoneer wrote:
Is "The Temple" the 3rd?
It seems that Mary has a copy of "The Temple" and she told me that on the rear cover it says "Book Three in the Sir Sidney Smith nautical adventure series." Thanks, Mary for answering my question.

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Corcyraeans to the Athenians, 433 BC


Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:27 pm
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Post Sir Sidney is alive and well
Yup, The Temple is the third book in the Sir Sidney Smith series; and I have begun work on the fourth, which will be called Acre. I've (pretty much) finished the background research, and I am currently working on the second chapter.

I once did an estimate of how many books I expect there will be in the Sir Sidney series and came up with the number nine. That's only a rough estimate, however, as I don't really have control over when any given book starts, stops, or what happens in-between. The characters tell me. I just take dictation. I know that sounds weird, but I swear it's true.

Complicating things is the fact that I am now the "Senior Editor" (and partial owner) of Fireship Press (www.FireshipPress.com). My wife thought that my having a regular paycheck was a marvelous concept, and why hadn't I thought of that before. So, my life as a writer is now sandwiched in-between my duties in playing for the opposing team.

Never the less, I expect to produce at least one Sir Sidney novel per year, while discovering other terrific writers like Alaric Bond who, by the way, came to our attention through this forum.

If anyone has any questions about my work or Fireship Press, feel free to post them here then send me an e.Mail at tmg@FireshipPress.com to let me know you've done so. I don't get a chance to follow the nautical websites as closely as I'd like to anymore. Or, just write me directly at Fireship.

Enough for now.


Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:13 am
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Post Re: Sir Sidney is alive and well
Tom Grundner wrote:
Yup, The Temple is the third book in the Sir Sidney Smith series; and I have begun work on the fourth, which will be called Acre. I've (pretty much) finished the background research, and I am currently working on the second chapter.

I once did an estimate of how many books I expect there will be in the Sir Sidney series and came up with the number nine. That's only a rough estimate, however, as I don't really have control over when any given book starts, stops, or what happens in-between. The characters tell me. I just take dictation. I know that sounds weird, but I swear it's true.

Tom, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Not only did you give us an insight into the SSS series, but also into your "creative process." As Arte Johnson would say... Very interesting.

Much success with both your careers. Happy Holidays.

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Don Campbell
"Whoever is strongest at sea, make him your friend."
Corcyraeans to the Athenians, 433 BC


Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:46 am
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Post Re: Tom Grundner: "The Midshipman Prince"
"The Midshipman Prince" by Tom Grundner

No Spoilers in this section:

Firstly, I enjoyed this book. I thought the characters were well drawn, unusual, and interesting. I liked the pace of the action both at the Battle of the Capes/Chesapeake and at the Battle of the Saintes and the actions between. I enjoyed the humor. I especially liked the Historical Postscript at the back which was divided into sections to match the book’s chapters. I have already purchased the next book and plan on reading it.

Spoilers below:

While the book is advertised as the first in the Sir Sidney Smith (SSS) series, Smith is NOT the main character. The main protagonist is erstwhile surgeon Lucas Walker. Walker is the one who has the ideas, makes the plans, and drives the action. Walker’s "assistant" (Susan Whitney) is a powerful character nearly as important to the story as Walker. The title character, who later becomes King William IV, makes some special contributions to the story. In my opinion, SSS seems to be a character just tossed into the plot. His place could have been played by any miscellaneous non-historical RN lieutenant and the story would not have suffered.

It is very possible that some readers might object after finding out that the SSS connection is minor, even to the extent of not reading the rest of the series. The author must have realized that some SSS fans might be disappointed so he points out, in the Historical Postscript, that the rest of the series will focus on SSS. Thus he seems to be acknowledging that this book did not.

When I read or watch a movie, I like to be "in the moment." Anything that breaks that moment (like kids making noise in a theater) is really irritating. This book has several places like that.

I do not mind when an author "breaks the fourth wall" and speaks to the reader. A lot of authors do that. There was an instant in this book which included breaking the fourth wall with a reference to a future term which took me out of the moment. "And they fell into a group embrace, hugging, backslapping, and attempting (without much success) what in a later age would be called a ‘high-five’." (page 140)

Another was when midshipman/Prince William Henry muses that in the future, his younger brother’s daughter would be called Queen Victoria. (pages 78-79) Since Alexandrina Victoria would not be born until nearly 40 years after the setting of this book, it was jarring. In the Historical Postscript, the author admits that he added this just to show he knows the birth name of Queen Victoria.

There are a number of futurisms (anachronisms) in this book. I might be wrong on one or two but these don’t seem to fit most AoS novels:
"Wait one" - page 34
Having the master yell "General Quarters, General Quarters" instead of beating to quarters - page 46
"to frost off" - page 109
A statement that the US Navy in the future would be able to defeat any other navy - page 111
"we are screwed" - page 125
"Dear John letters" - page 164

It is possible that much of this is due to the fact that this novel was originally written with a Science Fiction element of a time traveler from the future. See the discussion here about "Under Two Flags".

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"Whoever is strongest at sea, make him your friend."
Corcyraeans to the Athenians, 433 BC


Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:56 am
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