The following Richard and Adam Bolitho novels by Alexander Kent, published by Arrow Books in the United Kingdom, are presently available online and in fine bookshops, in their new jacket livery. The titles are listed in historical chronological order.
Three novels in one volume: the first, Richard Bolitho Midshipman begins in Portsmouth in October 1772, where young Richard Bolitho is waiting to join the Gorgon; the second, Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger', finds Bolitho aboard his brother's cutter at Falmouth in the winter of 1773. The third, Band of Brothers, offers Richard Bolitho and his friend Martyn Dancer the culmination of a dream.
Band of Brothers
William Heinemann (hardcover) and Arrow Books (paperback)
1774 ... The new year seems to offer Richard Bolitho and his friend Martyn Dancer the culmination of a dream. Both have been recommended for promotion, although they have not yet gained the coveted lieutenant's commission.
But a routine passage from Plymouth to Guernsey in an untried schooner becomes, for Bolitho, a passage from midshipman to King's officer, tempering the promise of the future with the bitter price of maturity.
Stand Into Danger
1774 ... Richard Bolitho is a newly appointed third lieutenant joining the 28-gun frigate Destiny
at Plymouth. It is a far step from midshipman's berth to wardroom and at a time when most of the fleet is laid up Bolitho is considered fortunate.
Despatched on a secret mission far south to Rio and then to the Caribbean, Destiny
and her company face the hazards of conspiracy, treason and piracy and, as the little ship sails on, Bolitho has to learn amid broadside battles at sea and the clash of swords in hand-to-hand actions, how to accept his new responsibilities as a King's officer.
In Gallant Company
1777 ... The revolution in America has erupted into a full-scale war. Richard Bolitho is a young lieutenant aboard the Trojan, an eighty-gun ship of the line.
The navy's main task is to prevent military supplies from reaching Washington's armies and to destroy the fast-growing fleet of French and American privateers. At a time of shortages and sudden death even a lieutenant can find himself faced with major tasks and decisions. As the Trojan
goes about her affairs the threat to Bolitho and his companions makes itself felt from New York to the Caribbean.
Sloop of War
Spring 1778 ... The year marks a complete transformation for Richard Bolitho and his future in the Royal Navy. It is the year that the American War of Independence changes to an all-out struggle against British rule and the year when he takes command of Sparrow
, a fast, well-armed sloop of war.
As the pace of war increases, the Sparrow
is called from one crisis to another; and when the great fleets of Britain and France converge on the Chesapeake, Bolitho must be ready to come of age in a sea battle that will decide the fate of a whole continent.
To Glory We Steer
January 1782 ... Captain Richard Bolitho is ordered to take the frigate Phalarope
to the Caribbean, where the hard-pressed royal squadrons are fighting for their lives against the combined fleets of France and Spain and American privateers. It should have been a proud commission for Bolitho, but Phalarope
has been driven to near mutiny by her previous commander.
Bolitho sets about restoring the ship's pride. Caught between inner conflict and the broadsides of the enemy, the great battle of the Saintes provides captain and crew with the ultimate chance of redemption.
Command a King's Ship
March 1784 ... It is a time of peace and most of His Majesty's fleet is laid up. However the frigate Undine
is despatched to India and beyond. Even though the war with France is temporarily over, the far side of the world promises plenty of action for Undine's
captain, Richard Bolitho.
The nations of Europe are greedy for trade and colonies and tension in remote areas of the East Indies soon comes to boiling point. Bolitho has to face the new threats alone, and rally Undine's
small company to a new type of warfare where there is no specified line of battle or higher patriotic cause.
Passage to Mutiny
October 1789 ... The frigate Tempest
arrives in Sydney, capital of Britain's infant colony in New South Wales. Her captain, Richard Bolitho, yearns to be posted home to England: instead he is ordered to police the southern trade routes.
Soon he is on a mission deep into the immensity of the Great South Sea, where he must face hazards of fickle winds, pirates and savage islanders. But at the back of his mind there is an even greater danger: the men of the Bounty
mutined in these same waters; and from distant Europe comes news of the Revolution in France.
With All Despatch
Spring 1792 ... England is enjoying a troubled peace, with her old enemy France still in the grip of the Terror. In harbours and estuaries around the country, the fleet has been left to rot, and thousands of officers and seamen have been thrown unwanted on the beach. Even a frigate captain as famous as Richard Bolitho is forced to swallow his pride and accept a minor appointment to the Nore.
With his small flotilla of three topsail cutters he sets out to search for the most brutal gang of smugglers England has known, the Brotherhood a gang with men of influence behind them and a secret, sinister trade in human misery.
Form Line of Battle!
June 1793 ... Gibraltar the gathering might of revolutionary France prepares to engulf Europe in another bloody war. As in the past, Britain will stand or fall by the fighting power of her fleet. For Richard Bolitho, the renewal of hostilities means a fresh command and the chance of action after long months of inactivity.
However, his mission to support Lord Hood in the monarchist-inspired occupation of Toulon has gone awry. Bolitho and the crew of the Hyperion
are trapped by the French near a dry Mediterranean island. The great ship of the line's battered hull begins to groan as her sails snap in the hot wind.
Enemy in Sight!
1794 ... As the year draws to a close Richard Bolitho, commanding the old seventy-four-gun ship of the line, Hyperion
, is despatched from Plymouth to join a squadron blockading the coast of Revolutionary France. Unfortunately there is little time for Bolitho's raw crew to settle their new duty before the French Admiral slips past into the Atlantic with a powerful squadron.
must give chase from the squally Bay of Biscay to the sultry heat of the Caribbean. Soon Bolitho finds himself not only in command of the Hyperion
but strategist for the entire British force. Success or failure in the coming engagement falls on his shoulders.
The Flag Captain
Spring of 1797 ... Richard Bolitho brings the 100-gun Euryalus
home to Falmouth to be flagship of the hastily formed squadron which has been chosen to make the first British re-entry to the Mediterranean for nearly a year. As flag captain, Bolitho is made to contend with the unyielding attitudes of his new admiral, as well as the devious requirements of the squadron's civilian advisor.
England is still stunned by the naval mutiny at Spithead, in which Bolitho's admiral was personally involved, and as the squadron sets sail the air is already alive with rumour of an even greater uprising in the ships at the Nore. Only when the squadron is drawn to a bloody embrace with the enemy does the admiral see the strength in Bolitho's trust and care for his men but by then it is almost too late for any of them.
Signal - Close Action!
1798 ... Richard Bolitho hoists his broad pendant as commodore of a small squadron and prepares to re-enter the Mediterranean. He is soon made aware of his responsibility. There are rumours of a massive French armada and of the latest type of artillery and Bolitho's orders are to seek out the enemy and to discover the intentions of his growing force.
Without any British bases in the Mediterranean, and unable to show favour to old friends, Bolitho is well aware that there are others within his ships who are no less dangerous than the enemy and during the weeks and months in which the squadron faces the hazards of the weather and French broadsides alike, Bolitho knows that far more than his own future is at stake. A fleet, even a nation, could depend on his decisions and, when he places his squadron between the Nile and the power of France, he must accept the price of the challenge.
The Inshore Squadron
September 1800 ... Richard Bolitho, a freshly appointed rear-admiral, assumes command of his own squadron but, as the cruel demands of war spread from Europe to the Baltic, he soon realises that his experience, gained in the line of battle, has ill-prepared him for the intricate manoeuvring of power politics.
Under his flag the Inshore Squadron has to ride out the bitter hardship of blockade duty and the swift, deadly encounters with the enemy. An old hatred steps from the past to pose a personal threat to him, but at the gates of Copenhagen, where his flag flies amidst the fury of battle, Bolitho must put all private hopes and fears behind him.
A Tradition of Victory
June 1801 ... After eight years of war between Britain and France there is at last a rumour of peace. But the old enemies are well aware that any settlement will be only a breathing space in which to recover from their terrible losses. To obtain the best terms the French muster a show of strength from Biscay to the Channel ports. At the British Admiralty there are some who see a daring opportunity to even the score at any negotiation table and who better to undertake it than the young Rear Admiral Bolitho!
Bolitho's small squadron is still repairing the scars of battle earned at Copenhagen and as he receives his orders from London Bolitho is, for the first time in his life, torn between the demands of duty and his real desire to marry. When the squadron sails it is joined by an additional ship, a frigate with many memories from the past. But where Bolitho's flag leads so his captains must follow, if necessary to the brink of disaster for theirs is a tradition of victory.
Success to the Brave
1802 ... Richard Bolitho is summoned to the Admiralty in London and given his orders for a difficult and, to him distasteful, task. Even an advanced promotion to Vice-Admiral to make him one of the youngest ever appointed does not compensate for his sudden and thankless mission. Bolitho and his wife are expecting their first child, and for once he is loath to quit the land for the demands of duty.
The Peace of Amiens, signed a few weeks earlier, is already showing signs of strain as the old enemies wrangle over the return of colonial possessions won and lost during the war. In the little sixty-four-gun Achates
Bolitho sails West for Boston, and discovers that to be a man of diplomacy is not enough. As threat and counter-threat weave a web of intrigue around his lonely command he balances success against the danger to the men who must follow him even to the cannon's mouth.
September 1803 ... Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho finds himself the new master of Argonaute
, a French flagship taken in battle. With the Peace of Amiens in ruins, he must leave behind the safety of Falmouth.
What lies ahead is the grim reality of war at close quarters where Bolitho will be called upon to anticipate the overall intention of the French fleet. But the battle has come to a personal vendetta between himself and the French admiral who formerly sailed Argonaute.
Bolitho and his men to a final rendezvous where no quarter is asked or given.
Honour This Day
September 1804 ... England stands alone against France and the fleets of Spain, anticipating invasion. Vice-Admiral Richard Bolitho has his own troubles to settle at home too. But his time on land is broken by an urgent summons from the King. Once more Bolitho hoists his flag above the veteran seventy-four-gun ship Hyperion
and sets sail, this time with a new squadron headed for the Caribbean.
Ordered to plan and effect a daring raid on the Spanish Main, Bolitho spares himself nothing. From here to Antigua, where he rediscovers a passion which defies every convention and threatens his reputation. And the future of the Hyperion
is at risk too. Set to clear the path to victory there is constant fear that this may be her final battle.
The Only Victor
February 1806 ... The frigate carrying Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho drops anchor off the shores of southern Africa. It is only four months since the resounding victory over the combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar, and the death of England's greatest naval hero.
Bolitho's instructions are to assist in hastening the campaign in Africa, where an expeditionary force is attempting to recapture Cape Town from the Dutch. Outside Europe few have yet heard of the battle of Trafalgar, and Bolitho's news is met with both optimism and disappointment as he reminds the senior officers that, despite the victory, Napoelon's defeat is by no means assured. The men who follow Bolitho's flag into battle are to discover, not for the first time, that death is the only victor.
Beyond the Reef
March 1808 ... War spreads in Europe as Napoleon holds Portugal and threatens his old ally, Spain. Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho is ordered to the Cape of Good Hope to establish a permanent naval force there following the success of his previous mission.
He leaves behind the contempt of society and the bitter memories of a friendship betrayed, and with the mistress he will not forsake takes passage on the ill-fated Golden Plover
. He is not the only one on board fleeing the bitterness of the past. When shipwreck and disaster overtake Golden Plover
, a hundred-mile reef off the coast of Africa becomes a powerful symbol of crisis and survival, claiming alike the innocent and the damned.
The Darkening Sea
1809 ... Returning to England after the dramatic capture of Martinique, Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho finds all too brief respite from war and politics in the arms of his mistress, Lady Catherine Somervell. But the shadow of a new conflict already darkens the horizon. France has forged an uneasy alliance with America. Together they threaten British trade routes.
Bolitho is ordered immediately into the Indian Ocean, but, even though he is his country's newest Admiral, for the first time Bolitho begins to ponder whether there might be a life beyond the sea.
For My Country's Freedom
It is March 1811, and Richard Bolitho is recalled to duty after only two and a half months of precious peace in Cornwall with his beloved mistress Catherine.
Promoted Admiral, his choice of flagship and flag captain shock the Admiralty, but Bolitho, poignantly aware of his own vulnerabilitiy, surrounds himself only with those men he can trust completely: the faithful Allday, the withdrawn and intelligent Avery, and James Tyacke, who must confront the sternest test of his loyalty with great personal courage.
When diplomacy fails the cannon must speak, and Bolitho, patrolling the troubled waters from Antigua north to Halifax, knows that when war with America comes he must fight an enemy not foreign but familiar, for the freedom to leave the sea forever.
Cross of St George
February of 1813 ... With convoys from Canada and the Caribbean falling victim to American privateers, Sir Richard Bolitho returns to Halifax to pursue a war he knows cannot be won, but which neither Britain nor the United States can afford to lose.
England's youngest admiral desires only peace. But peace will not be found in the icy Canadian waters, where a young, angry nation asserts its identity and men who share a common heritage die in close and bloody action. Nor will there be a peace for those who follow the Cross of St George: for the embittered Adam, mourning his lover and his ship, nor for Rear-Admiral Valentine Keen, who must confront grief and responsibility. There be no peace either from those enemies who use this struggle between nations as an instrument of personal revenge.
Sword of Honour
March 1814 ... Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho returns to England from several months' rigorous patrolling off the North American coast. War with the United States has not yet ended, but news of Napoleon's defeat and abdication has stunned a navy and a nation bled by years of European conflict.
Victory has been the impossible dream and now, for Bolitho, a vision of the future and a personal peace seems attainable. However an unsympathetic Admiralty dispatches him to Malta. Is this appointment a compliment or a malicious ploy to keep Bolitho from the woman he loves and the freedom he craves? He cannot know, but the voice of duty speaks more insistently even than the voice of the heart, and in this familiar sea where both glory and tragedy have touched his life, Bolitho must confront the future, the renaissance of a hated tyrant, and the fulfilment of destiny.
Second to None
'Peace or war, the requirements for this squadron remained unchanged. To protect, to show the flag, and to fight if necessary, to maintain that mastery of the sea which had been won with so much blood.'
On the eve of Waterloo, a sense of finality and cautious hope pervade a nation wearied by decades of war. But peace will present its own challenges to Adam Bolitho, captain of His Majesty's Ship Unrivalled
, as many of his contemporaries face the prospect of discharge.
The life of a frigate captain is always lonely, but for Adam, mourning the death of his uncle Admiral Sir Richard Bolitho, that solitude acquires a deeper poignancy. He is, more than ever, alone, at the dawning of a new age for the Royal Navy, where the only constants are the sea and those enemies, often masked in the guise of friendship, who conspire to destroy him.
December 1815 ... Adam Bolitho's orders are unequivocal. As captain of His Majesty's frigate Unrivalled
of forty-six guns, he is required to 'repair in the first instance to Freetown, Sierra Leone, and reasonably assist the senior officer of the patrolling squadron'. But all efforts of the British anti-slavery patrols to curb a flourishing trade in human life are hampered by unsuitable ships, by the indifference of a government more concerned with old enemies made distrustful allies, and by the continuing belligerence of the Dey of Algiers, which threatens to ignite a full-scale war.
For Adam, also, there is no peace. Lost in grief and loneliness, his uncle's death still unavenged, he is uncertain of all but his identity as a man of war. The sea is his element, the ship his only home, and a reckless, perhaps doomed attack on an impregnable stronghold his only hope of settling the bitterest of debts.
Man of War
William Heinemann, 2003
Antigua, 1817 and every harbour and estuary is filled with ghostly ships, the famous and the legendary now redundant in the aftermath of war. In this uneasy peace, Adam Bolitho is fortunate to be offered the seventy-four gun Athena
, and as flag captain to Vice-Admiral Sir Graham Bethune once more follows his destiny to the Caribbean.
But in these haunted waters where Richard Bolitho and his 'band of brothers' once fought a familiar enemy, the quarry is now a renegade foe who flies no colours and offers no quarter, and whose traffic in human life is sanctioned by flawed treaties and men of influence. And here, when Athena
's guns speak, a day of terrible retribution will dawn for the innocent and the damned.
Heart of Oak
William Heinemann, 2007
It is February 1818, and Adam Bolitho longs for marriage and a safe personal harbour. But with so much of Britain's fleet redundant, he knows he is fortunate to be offered HMS Onward
, a new 38-gun frigate whose first mission is not war but diplomacy, as consort to the French frigate Nautilus
Under the burning sun of North Africa, Bolitho is keenly aware of the envy and ambition among his officers, the troubled, restless spirits of his midshipmen, and the old enemy's proximity. It is only when Nautilus becomes a sacrificial offering on the altar of empire that every man discovers the brotherhood of the sea is more powerful than the bitte
r memories of an ocean of blood and decades of war.
In the King's Name
It is 1819, and Captain Adam Bolitho is ordered once again to Freetown in West Africa with secret orders for the senior officer there. The slave trade has been outlawed by many nations, but a hundred thousand slaves are still shipped out annually, the profit for slavers considered worth the risk of interception by the Royal Navy.
For Adam, newly married and as fiery as ever, Africa will bring reunions and unexpected allies, and a treachery that wears the mask of friendship, and threatens the very heart of all he loves.