Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. In this latest Waiting on Wednesday, I preview an upcoming Australian historical fiction novel that I am really looking forward to, The Queen’s Captain by Peter Watt.
Peter Watt is a talented Australian author who is best known for his amazing historical fiction novels that focus on the adventures of heroic Australian characters throughout various points of history. I was a major fan of his long running Frontier series (check out my Canberra Weekly reviews of the last two books in the series, While the Moon Burns and From the Stars Above), which followed two rival families as they battled throughout several turbulent periods of Australian history, and I have also been really getting into his most recent releases, the Colonial series.
The Colonial books are a fun and action-packed historical fiction series set in the 19th century which follow the complicated lives of two characters, Ian Steel and Samuel Forbes, as they engage in an elaborate deception. Ian is a colonial Australian blacksmith who dreamed of joining the Queen’s army and fighting around the world. His dreams became reality when he befriends Samuel Forbes, the heir to a rich English family who bears a striking resemblance to Ian. Samuel is estranged from his overbearing father and villainous older brother, who are determined that he will not inherit anything from them. However, Samuel can receive a vast inheritance if he serves as an officer in the British army for a period of 10 years. Unfortunately, Samuel is somewhat shellshocked after his initial posting in the army and strikes a bargain with Ian to switch places so that Ian can serve his commission and claim the inheritance. While Samuel hides himself in America, Ian, who has a natural aptitude for fighting and command, takes up this new identity and position in the army and fights through several campaigns, including in the Crimean War and the against the rebelling Sepoys in India. Both of these protagonists must also contend with the manipulations of Samuel’s suspicious brother and father, who attempt to both kill Ian and identify him as an imposter, and the novels also focus on Ian and Samuel’s friends, comrades and love interests.
This has so far been an extremely enjoyable series, and I loved the character-driven stories and the depictions of various historical battles around the world. I have read both of the preceding two Colonial books, The Queen’s Colonial and The Queen’s Tiger, and not only were the amongst some of the strongest historical fiction novels of their respective release years, but I also consider them to be the best pieces of Australian fiction that I have read. As a result, I am quite excited to get my hands on a copy of the upcoming third novel in the series. This third novel, The Queen’s Captain, is currently set for release on 10 November 2020 and it sounds like Watt has come up with a rather interesting plot for this next book.
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…
I very much like the sound of where this third novel is going. The Queen’s Captain looks set to follow its protagonists through several new historical battlefields, as both Ian and Samuel find themselves fighting for their lives. I am rather intrigued to see what events drag Samuel into the American Civil War, as this is the last place you would expect a rich British tourist with a dislike for war to end up. Having Samuel engaged in the sort of activities he was trying to avoid when he made his plans with Ian should add some compelling edges to the narrative. Ian is also heading into some interesting warzones, as not only will he continue his campaigns in India but he will be transferred to New Zealand. I have to admit that I really do not know that much about the British army’s conflicts in New Zealand and I am curious to see what occurs when Ian is posted there.
It also sounds like there is going to be lot more of the intrigue and double-dealing that surrounds the deal between Ian and Samuel, and no doubt Samuel’s brother, and perhaps other antagonists of the series, will be attempting to expose or kill them. Ian’s redeployment to New Zealand will probably be a major part of this, as this was Samuel’s initial military post before he struck a deal with Ian. It is extremely likely that some of the soldiers already posted in New Zealand will have some memory of the original Samuel and will therefore have some inkling that Ian is an imposter, which will place both protagonists in a different form of danger. I am also looking forward to the storyline surrounding Ian’s main love interest, Ella, as she deals with an unhappy marriage that she tries to escape. Watt has cultivated several fantastic supporting characters for this series, including Ella, and I am curious to see how their various storylines continue.
Overall, I have extremely high hopes for The Queen’s Captain, which should prove to be an excellent and enjoyable read for the end of the year. I have had an amazing time reading the first two novels in this fun and exciting series and I am sure that this third novel will prove to be another impressive read.