By the Knife, Steve Partridge

By the Knife, Steve Partridge

This historical novel is set in the middle of the Eighteenth Century, a period of near constant naval warfare, combined with the threat of piracy. We follow two very different men – one the orphaned son of a school teacher, the other a product of the London slums. Both end up at sea, one as a naval officer and one as a pirate. The plot follows their intertwined lives as they move from Britain to the Caribbean, and from the Mediterranean to West Africa.

The author paints a good picture of this complex period, with a broader canvas than many naval novels. Our naval officer's foes include the Spanish, the French, pirates and slavers, while our pirate's allies include the Barbary Corsairs, still a real threat to shipping during this period. The unstable nature of the Caribbean, with competing European powers and no one dominant, is the most common backdrop to the story, and makes a suitable scene for adventure.

I found this to be a very enjoyable read, with a convincing villain working within a convincing underworld, and a hero who isn't too flawless. The two stories don't always overlap, but they are both entertaining, and come together convincing at key moments. 


Author: Steve Partridge
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 384
Publisher: Matador
Year: 2015

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