The Age of Sail & Steam was a generation in which the world saw a pairing of the old and new technologies before one would render obsolete the other. My stories of Napoleon's South America take place in an alternate history. In my world, Bonaparte escaped final exile, avoids his great reward by two decades, and the Napoleonic Wars continue, moving from the Old World to the New. Inspired by the stories of C.S. Forester, James Clavell, Bernard Cornwell, Richard Woodman, and countless others, I wanted to continue the great naval adventures of the Napoleonic Wars into the Age of Sail & Steam.
My inspiration came from a brief passage in Donald Thomas’ Cochrane, Britannia’s Last Sea King; a detailed and engaging examination of Lord Thomas Cochrane's extraordinary life. Cochrane was the 10th Earl of Dundonald, 1st Marquess of Maranhão and lived the sort of life that would not be credible as a work of fiction. His father was the 9th Earl of Dundonald, a scientist who invented gas lighting and tar pitch hulls. Cochrane inherited his father's ingenuity and imagination. His mind was fertile and energetic. He saw the potential of the steam engine years before the technology could actually implement it. He developed 'weapons of mass destruction' that were considered too terrible to use and were kept secret until the Great War.
Unfortunately, he also inherited his father's prickly and obstinate nature. Neither father nor son could accept victory unless it was won entirely on their own terms. Thus, the father received neither credit nor fortune for inventions that changed the way we live. Likewise, the younger Cochrane squandered his many achievements; spending years in courts squabbling over how they were won instead of accepting the rewards and moving forward.
Cochrane, however, is not our stories' protagonist. Lord Cochrane is our catalyst, releasing a force of nature upon the world that is beyond his control. Our hero is a young British sea officer who, like countless others, was raised in a generation of war and can find no purpose to his life when there is no one left to fight. Seeking purpose and prosperity, he knows only to look for it in yet another war.
I'm not a historian, just an enthusiastic amateur and most of my research comes from secondary sources. I don't make a serious attempt to predict 'What If . . .,' only to write a 'ripping good yarn' using a setting in which Napoleonic adventures continue into the Age of Sail and Steam - the great sea battles of the early nineteenth century fought using paddle wheel steamers.
While many of the most significant overall historical events have changed, I have tried to remain faithful to the cultural and societal context and historical details that would not otherwise be effected by Napoleon's South America. I have tried to reasonably and logically extrapolate those details that would be changed. As for those details that do not seem reasonably extrapolated or are just plain wrong, hearing about those from you, my gentle readers, is the fun in writing them. Comments and criticisms, constructive or otherwise are appreciated.
My books are published by Third Millennium Publishing and can be purchased from their web site. They are also available on Amazon Kindle.
I am a member of the Historical Novel Society and I encourage you to check them out: http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/.
Click here to buy Scott Langley's books directly from Third Millennium Publishing
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