Pope, Dudley, Ramage’s Trial.

London: Secker & Warburg, 1984.

This is the 14th novel in the Napoleonic Wars series featuring Capt. Lord Nicholas Ramage, and while it’s not really a bad book, it’s becoming clear that the author was beginning to flounder about somewhat in search of a new story. The Calypso frigate has just completed its historically impossible rescue of French royalists from Devil’s Island on the coast of Guiana and is about to head home when news comes that the captured French ship that Ramage’s prize crew was taking on the short hop from Brest back to Plymouth has gone missing — and with it his new wife, who was a passenger.

Was she sunk or captured? (Her fate evidently will have to wait until the next episode.) The Royal Navy never being wasteful of its captains’ time, Ramage is detailed to provide escort for a convoy, since he’s going their way — a chore all Royal Navy officers loathe because of the perverse sloppiness and independence of the merchant fleet. And partway back, they meet another British frigate — which fires on them. Ramage is outraged and captures the interloper, assuming it’s a French convoy-raider in disguise, but no. All this leads to the court martial that takes up the last third of the book, which is wrapped up by a very conveniently timed and very public fit of insanity on the part of Ramage’s accuser. A deus ex machina of this kind is a sign that the author has written himself into a corner. There’s also a love-interest (sex-interest, really) and a certain amount of snappy dialogue, but my main reaction to this chapter in the saga is “meh.” Pope has done much better.

Published in: on 10 March 2011 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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