Russell, S. Thomas 1952- (Sean Thomas Russell)
Russell, S. Thomas 1952- (Sean Thomas Russell)
Born January 30, 1952, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; married; wife's name Karen; children: Brendan. Hobbies and other interests: History, yachting, caving, rock climbing, hiking, sailboat racing.
Writer and novelist.
Under Enemy Colors, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.
S. Thomas Russell is a writer and novelist whose interest in the ocean and love of the open water can be traced to his childhood living in a beachfront cottage on the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, reported a biographer on the author's home page. There, in a small cottage in which the six-member family lived, Russell enjoyed a perpetual view of Lake Ontario from his bedroom window. Though the house was cramped, that view of the open water became very important to the young Russell. "It opened up great vistas," he is quoted as saying on his home page, and contributed to his lifelong interest and participation in sailing. Books and reading became an important part of his life as he was growing up in an area where television reception amounted to two stations, and the nearest movie theater was a considerable distance away. Now, Russell, his wife, Karen, and son, Brendan, live on Vancouver Island, "a two-minute walk from the seashore," he noted on his home page.
Russell's interest in nautical history, sailing, and the high seas propelled him to write about such topics and resulted in his first novel. He made his debut as a novelist with Under Enemy Colors, set in the late 1790s during the conflict between England and revolutionary France. This "first-rate debut features taut plotting, liberal action and an attractively modest hero," commented a Publishers Weekly critic. The protagonist is Lieutenant Charles Hayden, of the British Royal Navy. Hayden's mixed ancestry puts him at odds with both sides of the conflict. His deceased father was British, but his mother was French, and he finds himself terribly conflicted in his feelings toward his dual heritage. Even though Hayden has solidly demonstrated that his loyalties lie with the British, his colleagues in the British Navy distrust his motives, and his superior officers have conspired to stymie his career. Because of his French ancestry he has been denied promotion and advancement within the ranks, even though his military record is commendable. Frustrated and angered at his fate, Hayden agrees to sign on as first lieutenant on the frigate Themis. On board, he discovers a ship in terrible disarray: its physically deteriorated condition makes it barely seaworthy, while the disgruntled crew is nearly ready to mutiny. The ship's commander, Captain Josiah Hart, is cruel, cowardly, and incompetent, but he has powerful connections within the British Admiralty, which ensures that he will retain his command despite his failings. When Hayden tries to impose some order on the ship and its crew, Hart reacts poorly, thwarting the young lieutenant's efforts to apply common sense, some basic understanding of human nature, and humane treatment. As the two officers struggle between themselves, Hayden must somehow manage to instill enough military discipline in the crew to ensure the Themis can stand up against French aggressors. As Hart's orders become more and more untenable, Hayden faces a surly and dangerous crew, the presence of a mutineer with no qualms against killing, and a mission into French waters that has great potential for disaster. Elsewhere, the lovely Henrietta Carthew sparks Hayden's interest in romance.
"Lieutenant Hayden is one of the most compelling and attractive heroes to appear in some time," commented Tom Miller in a review on Military.com. "Historical readers will cherish this strong naval saga with vivid sea battles, strong characterizations, and a deep sense of time and place," commented Midwest Book Review Web site contributor Harriet Klausner. "The novel benefits from thorough research and a mastery of the technical details of sailing in the 1790s," remarked Douglas Southard, writing in Library Journal. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "a colorful account of duty and honor, punctuated by the cannonade of naval warfare."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of Under Enemy Colors.
Library Journal, August 1, 2007, Douglas Southard, review of Under Enemy Colors, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly, May 14, 2007, review of Under Enemy Colors, p. 28.
Midwest Book Review,http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (December 5, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Under Enemy Colors.
Military.com,http://www.military.com/ (September 10, 2007), Tom Miller, review of Under Enemy Colors.
S. Thomas Russell Home Page,http://sthomasrussell.com (December 5, 2007).