All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Queen’s Captain by Peter Watt

on November 10, 2020

The Queen’s Captain (The Queen Trilogy #3)
Peter Watt
Pan Macmillan AUS
2020, 368p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

In October 1863, Ian Steele, having taken on the identity of Captain Samuel Forbes, is fighting the Pashtun on the north-west frontier in India. Half a world away, the real Samuel Forbes is a lieutenant in the 3rd New York Volunteers and is facing the Confederates at the Battle of Mission Ridge in Tennessee. Neither is aware their lives will change beyond recognition in the year to come.

In London, Ella, the love of Ian’s life, is unhappily married to Count Nikolai Kasatkin. As their relationship sours further, she tries to reclaim the son she and Ian share, but Nikolai makes a move that sees the boy sent far from Ella’s reach.

As 1864 dawns, Ian is posted to the battlefields of the Waikato in New Zealand, where he comes face to face with an old nemesis. As the ten-year agreement between Steele and Forbes nears its end, their foe is desperate to catch them out and cruel all their hopes for the future…

This is the third and final novel in this series, centering around Ian Steele, from NSW who took the place of Captain Samuel Forbes, a man with whom he shared a very similar appearance. Samuel, a second son of a very wealthy man, had had a commission purchased in the army for him but he is not enthusiastic about it. However he must fulfil the role in order to inherit a vast wealth and so they come up with a plan that Ian will fulfil the role and Samuel will lay low in America. Things got a bit complicated, Samuel’s brother suspects Ian of being a fraud and there have been numerous attempts on various people’s lives.

This book picks up a few years after the conclusion of the previous and Ian is well on the way to completing the commission and making he and Samuel well off. However he’s fighting the Pashtun in India and it’s increasingly dangerous – many times Ian thinks that he’s outgunned and outnumbered. Across the ocean, Samuel is, ironically, a lieutenant in the American Civil War now. Having fled to America to avoid serving Her Majesty’s Army, he finds himself caught up in another conflict and the only thing that gives him solace is spending time with the person that means the most to him.

These books have all been quite fast paced and very action packed – the battle scenes are expertly written. And I think it’s quite difficult to write convincing and engaging battle scenes because it’s very easy to get confused. But it’s always been one thing that’s been amazing about these books and you really get that feeling of chaos and helplessness and violence and desperation. I also really enjoy the bond that Ian and his Sergeant Major formed. It’s such a wonderful friendship, there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for each other.

A large portion of this story is also dedicated to Ella, who loves Ian but her wealthy, Jewish father married her off to someone else. The marriage is not going well and Ella’s thoughts more than ever are towards Ian (who she thinks is actually Samuel) and what they have lost together. She wants to reclaim some of it but her husband makes it difficult – he’s not invested in the marriage but he refuses to take part in something that he thinks will humiliate him. And then there’s also the real Samuel’s brother Charles and whether or not he will ever be made pay for the crimes he has committed. His father’s wealth and influence protects him but there are people who are closing in….

So there’s quite a lot going on in this book, to play out and wrap up all the various stories that have started over the course of the previous books. There’s a lot of questions – will the real Samuel and Ian be successful in their scheme for Ian to fulfil the role of Samuel until he can claim his inheritance or will Samuel’s brother Charles finally be able to expose Ian as a fraud? Charles is an abhorrent man, a murderer who hides behind the power of his father to do what he likes, seemingly without consequence. I was definitely looking forward to him getting some kind of comeuppance for his actions although when it came it was in a different form to what I imagined – but no less satisfying!

The action moves around the world here – remote parts of India, London, battlefields in America, as well as voyages from England to Australia and also, New Zealand as troops are sent to deal with the uprising of the native Maori over British rule. Everything feels very well researched and portrayed accurately, these were some brutal times and the book doesn’t shy away from showing it. Not just in terms of war but also in terms of Ella’s life as well – married off by her father to someone thoroughly unsuitable who then mistreats her and even though her father knows (and is supposedly a powerful and frightening man) it’s allowed continue and Ella is forced into a box of polite acceptance even as she tries to make amends for something that wasn’t even of her own doing.

I enjoyed this final instalment, I found it a very satisfying read for the most part, tying up the plot threads but also throwing in some surprising developments.


Book #223 of 2020

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