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Decline of a series

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Decline of a series

Post by malchya on Mon 15 Aug 2011, 18:55

Let me open this by stating that my favorite piece of NHF is Kent's Enemy in Sight. Sloop of War would be about 7 or 8 on my top ten and Signal: Close Action would get an honorable mention.

In point of fact, I've enjoyed all of Mr. Reeman's work, more or less, either under his own flag or that of Alexander Kent. But I've enjoyed them less and less as time gets on. They begin to feel somewhat as if they were after thoughts. Bolitho particularly feels as if he has grown into a caricature of himself. What a shame.

In the earlier books, such as the ones mentioned above, I was able to put aside my OCD nature and enjoy the stories despite such things as carronades firing exploding shells and 18 gun sloops mounting 32 pdr bow chasers. I could even overlook a three masted vessel with nothing left standing but "a scrap set on the cro'jack" tacking. The stories and characters were just that compelling. But, as the series progressed, the characters began to take on certain aspects of cardboard. The stories stopped being rousing adventures of the sea and became little more than poorly disguised romance novels. And when they attempt to convey the nautical setting it is almost as if he has mined past works for the descriptions, just moving a few phrases around here and there.

It's sad. Rather like watching an old and beloved friend move into the final stages of senility.
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Re: Decline of a series

Post by reb01501 on Mon 15 Aug 2011, 19:11

Not much to disagree with here, although I still managed to make my way through the entire series. My major criticism remains the mirroring of Bolitho's life with Nelson's.

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Re: Decline of a series

Post by Joolz on Tue 16 Aug 2011, 16:32

I am currently working my way through Smalley's "Expedient" series but am already wondering if he will sustain my enthusiasm till the end, even though it is only a short series. Absolutely love the first 2, but am unsure how it will develop from there.

I first encountered Reeman in the 60s/70s, but neither as Reeman nor Kent has he fully captured my imagination. I have to date read only the first 2 Bolitho books, and have little inclination to explore further as yet.
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Re: Decline of a series

Post by Paul-B on Fri 19 Aug 2011, 10:44

Personally I like Reeman's books, I've recently finished reading his "HMS Saracen" and enjoyed it. I doubt, though, that such a prolific author can maintain a particularly high standard throughout, certainly the Bolitho series is, to my mind, flawed this way.

Incidentally I'm going to be getting a copy of "Coronach" by his partner, Kimberley, which has received some good reviews. Not HNF but then, we are allowed to read other stuff occasionally Smile
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Re: Decline of a series

Post by Astrodene on Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:20

@Paul-B wrote:I've recently finished reading his "HMS Saracen" and enjoyed it.

I remember reading that back in the 60's when it first came out. Looks like another trip to that pile of boxes up in the loft is called for.................... Very Happy

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Re: Decline of a series

Post by malchya on Fri 19 Aug 2011, 11:41

I picked H.M.S. Saracen up at a used book store about two weeks ago and re read it. It had been the first non - Kent book I had read by Reeman, so I had fond memories of it. Upon rereading I fully understood why! This was a really good read.

As an aside, I picked up "Battlecruiser", one of his more recent efforts at the same time. All I can say is "Don't bother." The two books read back to back really make the point of my original post.
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Re: Decline of a series

Post by 80 Winters on Sun 18 Mar 2012, 18:36

I started reading this series back in 2001 in paperback with Richard Bolitho-Midshipman(1975) and finished (I hope) the series with In the Kings Name(2011) a book which was advertised "to be published" 2 years before (I'm told that Reeman had a period of illness and/or was finishing another book in his 20th century HNF series first).

The series held my rapt attention up until "they Nelson'd him" and then it began to drift as in "looking for a wind". While it's not all bad after that, the series fell back to "middle of the pack" in my ratings. I did enjoy Band of Brothers(2005) because, I too wanted to know "what ever happened to Martin Dancer". Douglas Reeman must be pushing 90 by now, so I say, "Mr. Reeman, you've given us some great HNF and for much of what we have received.....we're grateful".


Last edited by 80 Winters on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 15:06; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling correction)
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Re: Decline of a series

Post by Paul-B on Sun 18 Mar 2012, 18:56

Douglas was born in 1924
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Re: Decline of a series

Post by 80 Winters on Mon 19 Mar 2012, 03:42

Just spent a few hours doing a brief reprise of this series later books (post Richard). While my comments above are still valid, I will add that, at least for me, the series could have ended, very smoothly, with no strings hanging, at the conclusion of Hearts of Oak when Adam marries Lowenna, as a host of the primary characters are there and there is "closure" with respect to the Napoleanic Wars as (and I quote): "Capitaine Luc Marchand smiled and shook his head. 'He is my friend.' It was enough".........................(and that was enough for me)
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Re: Decline of a series

Post by burtbarnard on Wed 03 Oct 2012, 13:34

Mr. Reeman is getting up there in age, and I would love it if he would finish the series. Maybe one last adventure with Adam or maybe the story of when Richard first went to sea in the Manxman and then a epilogue telling about Adams descendants who stayed in the Royal Navy.
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