Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Tainted Dawn by B.N. Peacock

Title: A Tainted Dawn
Author: B.N. Peacock

Genre: Fiction (Historical / 18th Century / Nautical / British Navy / Merchant Ships / French Revolution / Caribbean)
Publisher/Publication Date: Fireship Press (3/1/2012)
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: I did.
One-sentence summary: The lives of three men are touched by revolution, war, the sea, and their own desire to go out in the world on their own.
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do I like the cover?: I have no strong feelings one way or the other.

First line: Even in August, London streets could be clogged.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow if you like gritty novels that don't gloss over the harder/darker parts of history -- especially life in the British navy.

Why did I get this book?: I like nautical fic now and then -- I don't know much about ships, but I fancy sailors!

Review: This first novel is a promising start to a nautical-based series set in the tumultuous late 18th century.

While the opening chapter offers a rather clunky introduction of our three leads (to us and each other), Peacock's story smooths out and things feel less contrived and awkward. Noble born Edward Deveare runs off to sea to avoid being shipped off to sea by his hostile and greedy paternal grandfather. Country carpenter Jemmy Sweetman runs off to sea because he hates his gin-drunk father. Wealthy French radical Louis Saulnier ends up at sea after his radical views get him in trouble at home.

Once at sea, all three young men grow up fast, and inevitably, their separate stories eventually connect -- but not after some serious agony and pain. The secondary cast of this book is large, but all rather intriguing, from Edward's dramatic mother to Louis' lace maker mistress to the cruel captain drives Jemmy to desert. I rather wished some of the secondary characters got more time in the book -- but then again I'm always partial to the stories of women.

The best parts of the book are when Peacock paints life at sea. Her descriptions are wonderfully vivid and often shocking, from the pungent scent of life below deck to the horrifying cruelties of Naval discipline and punishment. I often found myself pausing to chew over a scene that was visceral or gave me a historical 'oh, fascinating!' moment. (This whole book made me randomly curious about the development of the modern navy as I was horrified at how the British Navy worked in the 18th century. Paying for meals on a ship?! One's own uniforms?! Laundry?! Everyone drunk?!)

My edition came with a two-page supplement offering family trees of the three main leads as well as a crew list for the ships featured in the story. It was nice to have, although I will say, I had Wiki open so I could ascertain where on the ship people were -- that was more baffling to me than anything else!

My interest in nautical fiction comes from liking Master and Commander (the movie) and having a hot crush on Austen's Captain Wentworth. So needless to say, my knowledge of this genre is thin. I can't say whether the ship-speak and boat bits were accurate or not. As when I read super science-y scifi, I glossed over the super technical bits, but I still enjoyed the ambiance Peacock created and it satisfied my snapping-sails-blue-ocean-wool-uniforms-gritty-realism craving. For those who want hist fic that isn't heavy on romance, this is one for you.

From the end of the story, I'd guess this is the first in a series, and I'm curious to see where our boys end up. This is my second Fireship Press book and I'm impressed with their offerings. If you like nautical fic, take a look at this and their other offerings!

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GIVEAWAY!

I'm thrilled to offer a copy of A Tainted Dawn to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US and international readers, ends 2/8.

20 comments:

  1. I'm reading this for the tour so I won't read your review till later. Glad to see you liked it though.

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  2. This does look interesting. I really enjoy nautical fic too...especially with pirates! Are there pirates?! Either way, I'll check it out!

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    1. No pirates, but some very mean captains -- you might like it!

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  3. The only thing I know about the historic British navy is that John Lind undertook what's considered the first ever clinical trial and determined that citrus cured scurvy. Is that why we call them limeys?

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    1. That's fascinating -- I had no idea! (Now I'm going to have to google the source of 'limeys'!) I'm trying to think back to the citrus eaten (or not) in this book -- mostly the description of the biscuits stuck out in my mind -- hard and dry and etc. NOT the way I'd want to eat.

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    2. Sorry, *James* Lind! I was thinking of John Snow.

      Yeah, hard biscuits and salted cod! I don't remember if you mentioned when this book takes place, but Lind didn't do his experiment until 1747 and I guess citrus didn't become part of the rations until 1800, so the guys in the book might not have been taking lemon juice.

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    3. 1790s -- so close to when it got institutionalized. Certainly the characters indulge in Caribbean produce while there, but who wouldn't?!

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  4. I fancy sailors, too!

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  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Audra. I'm reading it at the moment and, although I'm not all that far in, have enjoyed what I've read so far. I seem to be on a nautical fiction kick this week!

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    1. Can't wait to see what you think once you finish -- it's dramatic but good!

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  6. Nautical fiction is one of those things I really *want* to like. Whenever I try to read it, though, I get so bogged down in the nautical terminology that I get bored and wander off. This sounds pretty good, though!

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    1. I know what you mean -- I'm like that about hardcore scifi or or fantasy. In nautical historical fiction, there's enough other elements I like that I can stick with it.

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  7. Oh, Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, and I fancy Capt. Wentworth too. I've never read any *nautical* novels, but I've always been tempted to try out Patrick O'Brien's series because his fans are so ardent.

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  8. I'm reading this at the moment and glad to hear it picks up (I'm at that clunky stage and have almost given up a few times). I love the history though, and that's keeping me going.

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  9. Nautical fiction isn't a favorite for me, but I always love a good family tree!

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  10. Thank you for hosting me today. It is a pleasure to be here. My thanks also to all those who commented.

    Barbara Peacock, Author

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  11. This sounds like a fascinating book, and one that I would love to read. I have a few friends who love the Master and Commander books, and have given me the first to dink my teeth into, but I am also very curious about this one, and would think that it would be a perfect fit for me. Thanks for the awesome giveaway, Audra! I hope I win this one!

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  12. I can't remember if I entered for this one! if it is a duplicate entry please delete!

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