Kings and Emperors audiobook
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“Kings and Emperors” is the twenty-first installment in Dewey Lambdin’s ‘age of sail’ series chronicling Alan Lewrie’s adventures and misadventures in the Royal Navy. This story opens with Captain Alan Lewrie and his fifty-gunned HMS Sapphire still based at Gibraltar and still at the beck-and-call of the British Foreign Office cloak and dagger types, as well as the aging base commander Sir Hew “The Dowager” Dalrymple.
1808 is shaping up to be a damned dull year for Lewrie and the crew of his slow two-decker; perhaps leading a flotilla of small and ineffective gunboats as they row in slow and endless circles around the Bay of Gibraltar; perhaps founding a small religious colony of Barbary apes near The Convent, Gen. Dalrymple’s stodgy headquarters. But events are moving just over the horizon and the Iberian Peninsula is about to change from a post-Trafalgar backwater of war to the center of action. Kings’ and an emperor’s aspirations are set in motion by the vaunting ambition of ‘the Prince of the Peace’ and the region is about to enter a half-decade of intense conflict. Lewrie is in the right place at the right time and he didn’t even have anything to do with setting the fireworks in motion this time; well, mostly not.
The adventure that follows is a series of small incidents connected by the overarching events of the first year of the Peninsula War. Lewrie finds himself in the middle of the action- whether running guns to Spanish rebels and slaughtering the odd brigade of French troops along the way, or going ashore to see a battle and work on his marksmanship, helping to shuttle troops from one location to another, or engaging in his favorite sort of campaign in the bedchamber- and comes off, mostly, smelling like a rose.
There’s enough action to sustain readers’ interest. Lewrie has his share of adventure, brief and not-too-disastrous encounters with historical figures, surprisingly mild interactions with imbecile senior officers, runs into old friends and enemies, and manages to keep his libidinous interest focused almost exclusively on Senhora Maddalena Covilhã. But there isn’t a strong over-arching plot to drive action and dramatic tension is generally weak. Lewrie hasn’t changed much but the situations in which he finds himself this time aren’t particularly compelling.
This still makes for an entertaining adventure for long-time readers of this series, and a reasonably interesting introduction to Lewrie for new readers, but it isn’t among Lambdin’s best efforts. There’s a sense that the work might have been rushed- including punctuation that is often excessive and confusing, some inconsistencies recollecting events from prior installments, and minor anachronisms of language and period customs- but that doesn’t detract too much from the reader’s enjoyment. This is a series that Lambdin has been working on- almost to the exclusion of all other writing projects- for more than twenty-five years, so it would be remarkable if there weren’t some occasional inconsistencies.
Overall, “Kings and Emperors” is an interesting and entertaining adventure. As it concludes, Lewrie is sailing home for England, before the action in Spain gets really intense and, perhaps, before his reputation can catch up with him there. He’ll be back at sea in another year or so, giving faithful and new readers the opportunity to see just what that rogue- er, respected naval hero, KB, Bt.- will be up to next.
Kings and Emperors audiobook in series Parker
This is a very well written series with careful inclusion of a lot of every day detail of life aboard a 19th Century warship, British politics and society, European politics, and military tactics. I think the reader gets more from the books by reading them in sequence, as there is a certain building of suspense and better understanding of political context and military context when there is some knowledge of background circumstances. In any event, “Kings…” is plenty entertaining and is a good lead-in to “A Hard, Cruel Shore” (which I just started) and which jumps with both feet into the Peninsular War.
Audiobook Kings and Emperors by Richard Stark
Some of the others reviewing here are, I think, missing the point. I’m getting older, Dewey Lambden is getting older, you’re getting older and Alan Lewrie is getting older. He’s forty-five and like most of us once we reach that age, he is realizing that the exciting stuff, the great victories, conquests and accomplishments are largely behind him.
Alan Lewrie is coming to grips with his own mortality and is finally accepting the simple fact that we have to let the young people run the world. That of course isn’t to say he’s completely spent and has nothing more to offer, and he doesn’t disappoint in Kings and Emperors! He can still get into the muck and mix it up a bit, he still takes every opportunity to show the French, the Spanish and British army officers just what sort of mayhem a man-o’-war can inflict, he still knows how to treat the ladies in and out of the bed chamber and he can hold his own with admirals, army officers and the men he leads and respects who sail and fight His Majesty’s fighting ships!
I don’t like to go into plot details when I write reviews and I won’t do so here. Suffice it to say that the story line, like all his previous adventures, moves along at a fine pace, is loaded with good humor and offers up more than enough action to satisfy long time fans like me and the casual new reader just picking up one of his adventures for the first time.
This story is a lot more nostalgic than past books were, but I’ve noticed this in all the books covering the time perios after Nelson died at Trafalgar. It is pretty clear to everyone that while the navy, British and French, still fills a vital role, the war has become largely a land battle and it is now up to the armies of Europe to settle matters once and for all.
All that said, the nostalgia is fun as we meet some characters from Lewrie’s past who have grown up along with him, meeting again after many years. Some have turned out fine while others don’t appear to have changed much. In any event, they are all getting older and already realizing that the exciting naval engagements are getting fewer and farther between, that the routine they know the eventual peace will bring may be too much to bear, may already be too much to bear!
So, if you are new to the series, start from the beginning and meet the young man who has matured into the man this newest book presents to us! Or, read this one and then go back in time! Either way, if you like the combination of nautical fiction and offbeat characters and humor, the Alan Lewrie adventures are definitely right for you!
Audio Kings and Emperors narrated by John Chancer
The whole Lewrie series is entertainment and exciting with very little bending of history to suit the stories. The one thing that is doubtful is the morals and manners of the characters which are relatively modern and do not reflect the historical records. However this fault makes the stories more readable to modern book buyers.
Free audio Deadly Edge – in the audio player below
Although the series is getting quite long now it still makes an entertaining read maybe not as good as some of the earlier tales it is still easy to read and enjoyable in the Boys Own mode with a strong flavour of 19th century naval life and the moral standards of the era.
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