"An Eye of the Fleet: #1 of the Nathaniel Drinkwater Saga" by Richard Woodman
This is the fine first novel in the saga of Nathaniel Drinkwater. These books are hard to find, so if you come across any, snap them up.
The action in this novel takes place in 1780-1781. Young midshipman Drinkwater is posted to HMS Frigate Cyclopes where he has to learn the hard way (good and bad) the ways of His Majesty's Navy. His first action is against the Spanish in a major engagement in January 1780 where his frigate pounds and captures a Spanish frigate. His next action takes place when he is part of a prize crew on a captured American privateer, where in route to England, possession of the ship changes hands a few times with crisp on deck action. He later returns to the Cyclopes and heads west to the American war where his ship has a nasty engagement with the La Creole, a French Privateer partially manned by Americans. Later, ashore in America, part of the crew on a scouting expedition has a hard engagement with American Cavalry. On returning to the ship, the Cyclopes is again found by La Creole, which tries to board them at night, but they are ready. After the aborted cutting out, the Cyclopes blasts La Creole to pieces and burns her.
The ship returns to New York and they sit out the rest of the war due to the indifference of the commanding admiral. About the time Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, they return home. The characters in this book are well portrayed, the action is lively and brutal. Woodman also includes some of the seeder aspects of life aboard a ship of the time. All in all, a fine read and a lot of fun. The book is hard to put down due to the rapid pace of the events described. The historical background is factual and the life aboard ship is realistically described.
Reviewed by Kenneth S. Smith, 1 September 1999
Pinnacle Books (1983)
New York, NY 10018