As the War of Independence begins in earnest, American merchant seamen prepare to strike the first blows. None strikes more deftly than Isaac Biddlecomb, captain of the Judea, whose smuggling activities are making a mockery of His Majesty’s Royal Navy. Pursued by HMS Rose, Isaac sacrifices the ship he loved to the depths, together with the fortune he stood to gain, rather than surrender.On the run from the enraged forces of King George, Isaac disguises himself as a merchant seaman. He is reunited with Ezra Rumstick, a comrade and fierce rebel, as the revolution gathers momentum. On a brig bound for Jamaica, and now serving as a lowly mate, fate tests Isaac’s mettle as he is captured by the enemy and faces a life of servitude under the deranged captain and sadistic crew of the HMS Icarus.
James L. Nelson is the award-winning author of more than twenty works of maritime fiction and history. His books cover the gamut from Vikings to piracy in Colonial America to naval action during the American Revolution and the Civil War. His novel Glory in the Name was the winner of the American Library Association/William Young Boyd Award for Best Military Fiction and his nonfiction George Washington’s Secret Navy won the Naval Order’s Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. He has lectured all over the country and has appeared on the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and BookTV. He currently lives in Harpswell, Maine, with his former Golden Hinde shipmate and wife, Lisa.
James Nelson is a master of his period and the English language. . . . Authenticity runs throughout the book, carrying total conviction. . . . Nelson writes with the eagerness of a young man sailing his first command.
A real page-turner, with plenty of first-class fight scenes for aficionados of sailing warfare.
The American Revolution has been well covered in fiction, but almost entirely as a land war—much as the War of 1812 has been treated virtually only as a naval war. By Force of Arms is the first book of a new series that will address the former shortcoming by following the career of Isaac Biddlecomb, a merchant seaman who has risen from the forecastle to the command of a vessel at the opening of the story. Biddlecomb isn't a natural-born hero at home in a hail of grape in the tradition of Hornblower or Aubrey. He is an ordinary American living in an extraordinary time, and Nelson, who has sailed aboard the modern reconstruction of the Revolutionary-period frigate H.M.S. Rose, makes clever use of this device to explain issues of the war and man-of-war life to the reader in unobtrusive fashion. Nelson's seagoing experience is evident in his clear, convincing description of the sailing. . . . Biddlecomb's sidekick is Ezra Rumstick, part-time patriot, part-time smuggler, full-time friend, and his nemesis is Captain James Wallace, the thoroughly professional commander of the Rose. The characters are strong and realistic, the plot and action believable and brisk, if none too complex, and readers will care enough about Biddlecomb's welfare to reach for Nelson's second installment. On the whole, an engaging start to what promises to be a fine adventure series in a neglected milieu.
Splice the main brace and drink a toast to James L. Nelson and By Force of Arms. Sailing in the wake of C. S. Forester, Nelson has done an excellent job of combining historical authenticity with firm characterization and lively action. . . . This is a fine yarn, deftly told.
Jim Nelson’s By Force of Arms strikes a blow toward establishing an American counterpart to Patrick O’Brian’s brilliance. With square-rigger experience in his wake and far horizons before Nelson, we can expect him to achieve one victory after another in the spirit of his British namesake.
A rollicking good sea story.
A lively and highly readable account. Exploring the lives of seamen, merchant captains, and Royal naval officers, By Force of Arms offers a realistic and minutely detailed account of shipboard life during the period.
Set sail with Jim Nelson into a world where he will lead you with the same command presence that he led his shipmates as Third Officer aboard the very real twentieth-century sail training ship HMS Rose. Plant your feet firmly on Nelson’s decks and you will smile as Patrick O’Brian has at Jim Nelson’s grace, wit, and humor.
Rousing plots, historical authenticity, and seafaring as vivid as a slap of salt spray. . . . Delivers plenty of action . . . Nelson’s page-turner brings the Revolution to life on the high seas . . . will please old fans and win new ones.