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The Lord Ramage series, by Dudley Pope
Dudley Pope's series about Lord Ramage is set between the years 1796 and 1807. They are excellently written and Dudley Pope has vast knowledge about the era, the Royal Navy, sail ships and ship handling. And his knowledge of the subject matter - both historical and nautical - is visible in every chapter.
Dudley Bernard Egerton Pope(29 December 1925 - 25 April 1997), a British writer of nautical fiction and history, was most notable for his Lord Ramage series of historical novels.
Books in the Lord Ramage series - year of events, title, and publication year:
Lord Ramage himself is an interesting and likable character. Unlike most of the heroes of the naval fiction about the age of sail, as for example Richard Bolitho, Alan Lewrie, Horatio Hornblower, and Jack Aubrey, Ramage has an upper class background and is a lord. He is Lord Nicholas Ramage, oldest son of the Tenth Earl of Blazey, Admiral of the White. He was born in 1775 at Blazey Hall, St. Kew, Cornwall. He entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1788, at the age of thirteen. His well-contructed and interesting background sometimes make things difficult for him, as he also comes from a family with enemies.
In Pope's writing, luck plays a prominent part. Sometimes, perhaps too grat a part. Thus Lord Ramage always seem to be in the right place at the right time to be in the midst of the major events of the time. That said, taking this liberty allowed Dudley Pope to write a very interesting series of books, with lots of naval action.
Unfortunately the chronological sequence of the novels is not the same as the publication order, and I strongly recommend reading the books in chronological rather than publication sequence. Readers following the series should be aware of this problem. Therefore the years of events are listed (see right) as well.
Dudley Pope's writing is skilled, clever, engaging and entertaining. The characters are good, well developed and develop considerably in the course of the series. The Ramage series is an interesting and very entertaining addition to the navel fiction literature!
It is one of my personal favorites - I had great fun reading this series. It may well be the most entertaining of the nautical fiction series from the Age of Fighting Sail.
Ramage, by Dudley Pope
Ramage, the first novel in this excellent series by Dudley Pope, starts with the hero Lord Nicholas Ramage, ranking third lieutenant, being unconscious in the middle of a furious sea battle, and roused by the enlisted men to assume command of the frigate Sibella. He wakes up to a disaster. The frigate is crippled and sinking, all the other officers are dead, and they are still being attacked by a French battleship.
So the novel, and the series, gets off to a very fast start. Ramage needs to somehow get out of the fight, but also has a difficult and challenging mission to complete, assigned to him by the infamous Nelson himself. And the action is fast and furious. And while the action slows down a little in the middle, Ramage never gets boring.
There is also a beautiful woman here, Marchesa di Volterra, as well as intrigue, camaraderie, battles, romance, and excitement. As well, the ending is very suspenseful.
Ramage comes across as is an interesting and likable character with intriguing weaknesses and strengths. Also, Dudley Pope - who had vast knowledge about it - presents the Royal Navy in a very realistic fashion, with all its flaws; its tendency to promote incompetent officers from wealthy and influential families; the internal politics; the problems posed by mentorship relations, and so on. Ramage is an excellent and very entertaining navy fiction novel. An outstanding start for the Lord Ramage series by Dudley Pope!
Drumbeat, by Dudley Pope
Drumbeat, the second book in the series about Lord Ramage, is perhaps even better than the first. It is a very entertaining book. There are many good things to be said about it. Probably what impressed me the most was how innovative Dudley Pope is in his writing!
The action in Drumbeat is often far from the usual action in books about naval warfare in the Age of Sails. Rather than letting Ramage simply engage in the “usual” artillery slug-fests, where ships line up against one another and shoot till one of them has had it, Ramage uses both unusual and very creative tactics during the battles. In this sense, the Ramage books – both Drumbeat and several of the others – are very “innovative” and intelligent books.
In this book Ramage falls in with frigates, both Spanish and British, has an onshore diversion spying on the enemy, has a run-in with a Levanter, and returns to save the day for the fleet and his beloved Commodore Nelson. The final battle in this book, essentially the Battle of St. Vincent, is magnificently described in this book.
The book is also fairly well-written, even though Dudley Pope may not be a Patrick O'Brian or an Alexander Kent in terms of quality prose. However, Pope is extremely knowledgeable about sailing and the Age of Sail and creates excellent and clever plots. And he writes with a great understated humor that I like a lot. A great read!
Ramage & the Freebooters, by Dudley Pope
(This book was published as The Triton Brig in USA) The first line of the book reads: “As Ramage's carriage rattled along Whitehall he was surprised to see the long and wide street was almost deserted.” The reason is the Spithead mutiny. Lord Ramage is called to the Admiralty and given command as well as an urgent mission, but as the brig is part of the mutiny; his task is not an easy one and requires solving unusual problems. However, as we all know, this is Ramage’s forte!
If he gets away from Spithead, Ramage is to deliver three sealed dispatches to admirals off Brest and Cadiz, and in the Caribbean. If he fails, he will become a very convenient scapegoat.
This is how the third novel in the Lord Ramage series by Dudley Pope starts. As the two previous ones, it is an extraordinarily exciting story which captures all the romance, mystery and adventure of the Caribbean in Nelson's day.
Having arrived in the Caribbean, Ramage is instructed to stop the mysterious loss of ships sailing from Grenada to Barbados after two frigate captains had previously failed to do so. A new puzzle, and again he is set up as a scapegoat. He has no choice, but must gamble that he will be successful. And, as it turns out, logical analysis and a keen understanding of the economics of piracy soon leads Lord Ramage in the direction of the freebooters.
Dudley Pope delivers excellent adventure yarn with delightful, well thought out plots. He also has a cunning ability to convey how the best of the best handle emergency situations, and – as well - portrays these situations with realism and authenticity. Ramage and the Freebooters is very exciting. It is at least the equal of the first two books in this series in terms of content, and Dudley Pope's writing is better in this as well. A great trill to read!
The Ramage series
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