Friday, August 17, 2007
Eric Brown has reviewed Set the Seas on Fire for the Guardian, and says all sorts of nice things about it.
When the HMS Fortitude suffers damage after attacking a Spanish galleon in the South Pacific, the Captain elects to head south into uncharted waters in search of habitable land. They come across paradise in the form of an island inhabited by hospitable natives, but not before locating the survivors of the Spanish galleon who tell a horrific tale of another island further south inhabited by monsters. First Lieutenant Heironymus Bonaventure has always sought a life of adventure, and his dreams and nightmares are fulfilled in the south seas. He falls in love with a native woman, and then faces the demons of the southern island as the Fortitude leaves in search of the Spanish gold hidden there. Bonaventure, wry and humorous, is an engaging character, torn between his love for the islander and his duty to the flag. The novel is an informed discourse on navy life circa 1800, swordsmanship and the relative qualities of Christianity and island deism. For much of its length it's a slow-burning historical novel, with dark undertones, which towards the end suddenly bursts into understated though effective horror.
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