The year 1777 is bleak indeed for the cause of American Independence, with the British army twice defeating Washington and taking the capital city of Philadelphia and the Royal Navy sweeping aside the defenses of the Delaware Bay.
And for Captain Isaac Biddlecomb and the men of the half-built frigate Falmouth, things are direr still. After managing to slip through a British blockade, they find themselves trapped in a desolate harbor on the New Jersey coast and menaced not by the British but by the outlaw bands that terrorize the countryside and see Falmouth as a potentially valuable prize.
Deserter Angus McGinty steals Biddlecomb’s most potent weapon, the captured British sloop Sparrowhawk, leaving him to face the ruthless Pine Robbers on his own, with only his diminished crew and the near-useless local militia to help.
Meanwhile, Virginia Biddlecomb, trapped in occupied Philadelphia, sees her chance to play a clandestine role in the fight. In the course of her activities, however, she lets slip information that will put her husband, his ship, and his crew in mortal danger, leading to a desperate race to get the unwieldy Falmouth to a place beyond the reach of the Royal Navy.
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.
All the page-turning, heart-thumping excitement that I so enjoyed in the previous books of the series. . . . [Nelson's] rich lifelong knowledge of historic details is why, unlike many nautical histories, his scenes ring so true and are so easy to follow—with just enough blood and death to feel realistic.
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.
Nelson’s seagoing experience is evident in his clear, convincing description. . . . The characters are strong and realistic, the plot and action believable and brisk . . . a fine adventure series.
Nelson now sails honorably with the squadron of naval-fiction scribes currently led by Patrick O’Brian. . . . His pacing is brisk and the salt air blows through every chapter.
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. —Naval History
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.
Nelson knows sailing, and he knows people. In Biddlecomb he has an all-too-human hero willing to step over any barrier to keep the British at bay and his own career on track.