Title: A Tainted Dawn: The Great War, Book I by B. N. Peacock
Published March 1, 2012; Fireship Press
Genre: historical fiction
Setting: 18th century Europe, the Caribbean
Setting and time: August 1789. A new age dawns.The Rights of Man. Liberty. Equality. Idealism. Patriotism. And yet, old hostilities persist: England and Spain are on the brink of war. France, allied by treaty with Spain, readies her warships.
The main characters: Three youths – Jemmy Sweetman, the son of an English carpenter; Edward Deveare, the son of a naval captain; and Louis Saulnier, the son of a French court tailor – meet in London, a chance encounter that entwines their lives. The English boys, Jemmy and Edward, find themselves on the same frigate bound for the Caribbean, while Louis, the Frenchman, sails to Trinidad, where he meets a Spanish revolutionary even more zealous than himself.
The conflict: As diplomats in Europe race to avoid conflict, war threatens in the Caribbean, with the three youths pitted against each other. Will the dawn of the boys’ young manhood remain bright with hope? Or will it become tainted with their countrymen’s spilled blood? (publisher's description)
My comments: Jemmy, the carpenter's son, joins the ship's crew to escape a life of hardship and a harsh and uncaring father. Edward is separated from his mother and sent by his guardian, an Admiral, to serve on the King's ship Amphitrite after the death of his father. The boys encounter Louis, the French boy, a staunch revolutionary who is dead set against the aristos or aristocrats, whether French or English.
I was taken with Edward's mother fighting to regain her son and to bring him home from what she saw as a life of hardship sailing. I appreciated that the novel is painstakingly researched and the historical times well recreated. As a novel of history, it is excellent. As a story about three boys, I felt that history took precedence and overrode the human aspects of the story. I would have liked to see the boys' individual characters more developed. Overall, an excellent effort for history lovers as well as for those curious about life and politics in the tumultuous times of 18th century Europe.
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Thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for a review copy of the book.