I miss Patrick O’Brian. For years, I would find the latest book in his Aubrey/ Maturin series neatly wrapped as only my wife, Jane, can do. I have now read them all because he is not here to write another. Maybe Julian Stockwin will help fill the void. With his first book, Kydd, he is off to a great start!

Nautical fiction fans have something to be happy about as Stockwin releases his first book in what promises to be a fine series detailing the naval career of Thomas Payne Kydd. Though written in the fashion of Patrick O’Brian and C. S. Forrester, Stockwin takes readers along a new path by detailing the raw emotion of an intelligent man engaged ashore in the craft of wig making and then pressed into the King’s service. Once aboard Duke William, a first-rate battleship, this “lubber landsman” learns the hard life, the bitter disappointment, and the despair and confusion of being pressed. Stockwin makes us feel the emotions and trials endured by Thomas Payne Kydd.

Everyone loves a story that surrounds a man overcoming adversity, proving his mettle and demonstrating to himself and others that he is far more substantial than he was originally given credit for being. Stockwin comes through with the “good goods.” To the internal applause of the reader, Thomas Kydd makes the transition from self-pitying “landsman” to able seaman. Stockwin has an excellent handle on his material and an outstanding story basis. Each new book should prove to be a gem.

Julian Stockwin is cut of the genuine Royal Navy cloth. Joining at the tender age of 15, he has seen service all over the world. He recently retired from the Royal Navy Reserve as Lieutenant Commander. I’m certain Jane will be looking for the release of Volume II.

Kydd by Julian Stockwin (Scribner, 2001; 256 pages)