A Darker Sea by James L. Haley

A Darker Sea

James L. Haley

With exquisite detail and guns-blazing action, A Darker Sea illuminates an unforgettable period in American history.

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The second installment of the gripping naval saga by award-winning historian James L. Haley, featuring Commander Bliven Putnam, chronicling the build up to the biggest military conflict between the United States and Britain after the Revolution—the War of 1812.

At the opening of the War of 1812, the British control the most powerful navy on earth, and Americans are again victims of piracy. Bliven Putnam, late of the Battle of Tripoli, is dispatched to Charleston to outfit and take command of a new 20-gun brig, the USS Tempest. Later, aboard the Constitution, he sails into the furious early fighting of the war.

Prowling the South Atlantic in the Tempest, Bliven takes prizes and disrupts British merchant shipping, until he is overhauled, overmatched, and disastrously defeated by the frigate HMS Java. Its captain proves to be Lord Arthur Kington, whom Bliven had so disastrously met in Naples. On board he also finds his old friend Sam Bandy, one of the Java's pressed American seamen kidnapped into British service. Their whispered plans to foment a mutiny among the captives may see them hang, when the Constitution looms over the horizon for one of the most famous battles of the War of 1812 in a gripping, high-wire conclusion. With exquisite detail and guns-blazing action, A Darker Sea illuminates an unforgettable period in American history.

Advance Galley Reviews

Perfect rainy day read.

Good read. Interesting characters. Story flow was well done. Like the history and helps to enlighten the reader to what happened during this time of war and conflict. Hard to put this down. Would recommend this book.

Certainly happy I discovered this author. Received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Superb historical fiction. Written with authority and easily demonstrates the author's expertise. Will read more from James Haley.

James L. Haley's "A Darker Sea" is an incredible and extraordinary book that compels you to never stop reading it until you reach the end. Bliven Putnam is the main character of a story that takes place in 1812. This was a period when France and Britain were extending their dominions overseas and reinforcing their trade routes, even in the Caribbean. Imposing their force and strength and practicing the slavery, France and Britain were becoming a clear hindrance to the U.S. economy. The American trading vessels are frequently seized by both France and England. Their cargos are confiscated and the American sailors are impressed. Sam Bandy's ships, Big Althea, is also stopped by Lord Kington's sloop-of-war and taken as a prisoner because he's suspected of being a wanted Mr. Lively, a Canadian deserter. Kington’s aim was to seize all ships carrying contraband bound for French ports, with whom they are at war. This endless war between the British and the French was fought but disregarding the American rights by both sides. This Sam Bandy was a merchant mariner and also an intimate friend of Bliven Putnam, a retired merchant that is waiting to be back in service. Because so many American ships are seized by the British, the US President is put in command of a new ship, The Tempest. On June 21, 1812, the US declared war to Britain. Bliven’s principal occupation is raiding the enemy’s commerce. It was a war that might have been averted. After the assassination of the Tory Prime Minister, Mr. Percival, chief proponent of this policy that authorized the British Navy to stop neutral vessels, including Americans, the situation changed. The new Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, that has long advocated a more moderate policy towards the US, canceled that policy. At the beginning we are taken aboard the Constitution, a magnificent warship, and the narrator describes, with a narration full of suspense and tension, how this well-equipped ship is able to destroy whatever British ship. In the second part of this novel, we see Bliven in command of his The Tempest, a name that probably predicts the end of this ship. In fact, he is miserably defeated by Kington’s Java and pressed as a prisoner. Aboard, Bliven finds that Sam was also there. Bliven and Sam save their life only when the Constitution defeats the Java and Kington is finally killed in the battle. I think that the main theme of this novel is the idea that everything has a dark side, even the sea. There is a great critique against slavery in itself and this innately superiority that was attributed to the British, the French and the Americans. Haley criticizes, through the voice of Clarity, Bliven’s wife, the darker side of humanity extended across all races, each capable of unspeakable cruelty and depravity. Definitely, each race has a dark side to be reproached. Each man can be attracted to this deep abyss, that darkness to which we are all vulnerable. There is also a veiled critique to the image of the US as a mere projection of Britain. This idea of America as a place to be retaken by the British is no longer tangible, but in the years after the American Revolution this idea was, for sure, shared by the vast majority of British people, especially those more conservative and traditionalist. From the point of view of the structure, I think it is too linear and chronological. I respect the author’s intention but maybe a more complicated structure would have made the novel a real masterpiece.

For me this was an outstanding historical fiction. I am looking forward to the third book in this Naval Saga. This book is basically a humanized build up to the Naval War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. The characters and story developed through them is what made this book for me. There was some action in the Naval battles but the real story was that of Naval Strategy, arrogant Naval Officers as well as proper Officers and true gentlemen who only wanted a simpler life. When Sam Brandy is illegally pressed into the British Naval service after being kidnapped it becomes not only a chance for mutiny but rescue and a lead into how and why the United States declared war on Great Britain. Ending in one of the most famous battles of the war the Tempest shows in great detail the horrors, honor, pride, regret and culture of the time while delivering an amazing conclusion. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction, War and Naval books. Great read, Well rounded.

I didn't read the first book in this series prior to getting a copy of this, but I chose to before delving into this one. This book revolves around Putnam and the war of 1812. I didn't know much about that period of time but the books in this series are interesting and informative. It probably isn't for people who aren't into historical fiction or naval based stories. Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading the books in this series.

This was a great was a tale of War. It is a story looking back at the history of America and how we view slavery in the early 1800s. In the North and the South; how that line was not easily defined. How the rest of the world looks at America and how America saw the rest of the world. The author wraps his history with a wonderful story that gives history life! I didn't read the first book, but I will go back and read it. This is the second book in the series and I’m definitely looking forward to the 3rd and the 4th and the 5th...

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed A Darker Sea every bit as much as the first book in the series, The Shores of Tripoli. As before, the historical events are solid and Putnam does not seem out of place despite being inserted by Haley. While there is little sea action, this is justified by the events of the time, as the Navy was largely out of circulation. An improvement that Haley has added over the first novel is an increased amount of time away from Putnam himself to focus on supporting characters. In the previous book, there are few instances of someone other than Putnam occupying the primary point of view. This time around, the very first lines open with Sam Bandy aboard his merchant vessel, while Clarity Marsh also receives a fair bit of attention both with and without Putnam during the course of events. This adds a greater breadth to the plotline as well as helping to build into Putnam's action later in the story. However, there are still some improvements that could be made. Most are minor, but one point in particular has stuck with me since The Shores of Tripoli. Twice now, Haley has shown readers the promise of a budding minor character that is introduced, has a couple of scenes with Putnam, and is promptly killed off in the next action sequence. Meanwhile, once Putnam finally takes command of the Tempest, his first lieutenant can only be described as flat; outside of a bare physical description, he garners just a few obligatory lines, with no distinguishing personality to be gleaned from their delivery. Putnam needs another strong secondary character to provide both depth and contrast. The presence of Clarity in the scenes set on shore serves in just that capacity, giving them an extra dimension that the shipboard sections lack. Hornblower had Lt. Bush, Aubrey had Dr. Maturin, now Putnam needs his shipboard supporter. Whether that character fills the role of co-star or sidekick, our hero can only be the stronger for having him there. Faults aside, A Darker Sea is a solid continuation to the series. As with the first novel, I was happy to pick this book up for the introduction and reluctant to put it down at its conclusion. There is great potential for more adventures featuring the characters. Particularly, I look forward to Putnam gaining an independent command that lets him break free from the historical figures which have kept him company so far and chart his own course.

James Haley did an excellent job writing this novel. There is plenty of sea adventures and battles. More than enough to keep the reader going until the biggest battle at the end.

An interesting read with a lot of information about the beginnings of the War of 1812 and the thoughts and opinions of a range of Americans in the time period. I am now anxious to read the first book in the series: The Shores of Tripoli. I enjoyed the perspectives and the detailed action.

This book detailed the experiences of Putnam during the war of 1812. Not knowing much about this time period prior to reading this book, I found portions of the narrative very interesting. The author also made a point of adding additional historical information during the course of the narrative such as the invention of the pencil, abolition, and federal vs. state currency. It was clearly well researched, especially in regards to sailing and life at sea during this time. I personally found it a little light on the novel end, and was not enthralled by the characters or plot, but the historical end was very interesting and taught me a great deal about what it looked like to battle at sea. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy historical fiction, American history, and who love to read about ships, sailing, and life at sea.

The book is exactly as what you think it will be based on the title, detailing Putnam's adventures at sea. It has quite a bit of detail about sea life and some of the things that were going on at that time in the altercations between Britain and America. I wish I had known it was the 2nd in the series before I started it, but it was fine to read as a stand-alone book as well. It did keep my interest even though I am not particularly interested in the sea.

The story was well written, just wasn't my cup of tea.

I received an ARC of 'A Darker Sea' by James L. Haley from First to Read for an honest review. I was delighted to have the opportunity since I had recently finished Haley's 'Shores of Tripoli', his first novel about Putnam and Bandy. This novel smoothly continues their saga. Haley's detail about the ships and crew are excellent. The novel gives a hsitorian's perspective to the issues of having a permanent navy during the formative years of the young republic. The cost of a navy was immense but given the expanse of our Eastern coast, absolutely necessary. The author not only brings an accurate historical perspective to the times, he has created a number of exceptional characters including not only the previously mentioned two but their wives and families as well. While Master Commendant Putnam is not Horatio Hornblower, but the author gives us a very different American hero. I would give this five out of five stars for an excellent historical novel of a forgotten period of our naval history.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I was never much interested in history as a youngster but I find it much more interesting as I age. I found the book to be educational about the time period and the individual stories engaging. It kept my interest in that I read it nearly in entirety in one sitting. This book can stand alone or be read as a part of the series. It reminded me of the books written by Patrick O'Brian. Well worth the time to read for anyone favoring maritime history.


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