'The Price of Glory' is Seth Hunter's third novel in his series featuring Captain Nathan Peake. The first two books, 'The Time of Terror' and 'The Tide of War', having taken Nathan from the beginnings of the war against France and a trip down the catacombs of Paris to the seas of the Caribbean to protect British interests.
Set both on the high seas and on the streets in the aftermath of the French Revolution, 'The Price of Glory' sees Britain's continued battle against France and Nathan, captain of the ship Unicorn, plays his part in the war effort, both on his ship at sea and in disguise as a spy.
It is 1795 and in Paris the use of the guillotine and the mass murder of tens of thousands of 'enemies of the revolution' have only just stopped. However, the Reign of Terror may have come to an end but there is still rioting in the streets as the French citizens starve and the cream of society continue to lead a life a pleasurable and scandalous pursuits.
Whilst under cover in Paris, Nathan meets The Madonna and The Rose, two of the most famous women in France, courtesans who outwardly scandalise society but in the background pull the strings of power. Their acquaintance, Napoléon Bonaparte (nicknamed ‘Captain Cannon’) is ridiculed as he seeks to make a name for himself as a great leader of men by organising a brutal and bloody end to the uprising on the streets.
Nathan, back in charge of his vessel, meets another young and ambitious man, Horatio Nelson, as the British seek to prevent Napoléon’s invasion in the south of Europe.
As well as all of this, Nathan is also looking for his lost love. She had become swept up in the terror but a letter got through promising him she would wait in her old village, drinking lemonade and eating orange cakes as she did before the war.
Hunter’s writing is quick and snappy, bringing to life the thunder of naval battles as ships blast each other apart with cannons, and the chaos and carnage of fighting. He keeps the energy throughout, bringing to life Georgian London and post-Revolutionary Paris with a whole cast of lively characters, some of which have shaped history. Nathan Peake himself is a solid and likeable character to focus the story on who, as the tool of more powerful men, allows us to experience both sides of the war.
I do not feel that it is necessary to have read ‘The Time of Terror’ and ‘The Tide of War’ to enjoy this book, I read it without knowledge of the other two, as although some characters and previous events are either alluded to or reappear it is the current action which takes centre stage. For such a widespread and significant event as the French Revolution and the subsequent wars with most of Europe, Hunter has done a very good job of taking a snapshot of the time and leading us through the main events. However, a bit of general knowledge of what happened and the people involved would make it easier as it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with who people are and what they are doing.
I can see this series continuing as this only leads up to Napoleon invading Italy and I feel that Nelson and his activities as Britain seeks to thwart Napoleon’s plans would make an interesting focus of a fourth book. Overall, it is easy to read, highly enjoyable and worth giving a go.
Review by Cat Fitzpatrick
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