Reviews of Press Gang, the (1973)
Review by severance (2006-04-01)
Adam Hardy was one of the many pseudonyms from the prolific Kenneth Bulmer, now known primarily for his science fiction work. Throughout the 70's and early 80's, though, he produced dozens of historical adventures ranging from Roman times right up to the Falklands War. This offering is the first of fourteen he produced that chronicle the blood and thunder exploits of Second Lieutenant George Abercrombie Fox, of his Majesty's frigate "Duchess". To say that this is a lowbrow C.S. Forester or Patrick O'Brien, though possibly true, would also be doing Mr. Bulmer a great disservice. In it's meagre 112 pages there are enough bloody confrontations between English and French fleets, between Fox and his superiors (who he feels rightly have got their position through nobility rather than maritime ability) and between the dubious activities of the numerous Navy pressgangs to satisfy most people. In the first paragraph the Midshipman gets his head taken clean off by a cannonball, Fox cursing because the arcing blood gets on his uniform, during an engagement with the French, and the pace rarely lets up until the finish. Not great literature perhaps, but a damned good read nonetheless. I look forward to my next journey in the company of 'the old bastard Fox'.