Tenacious: the hunt for Napoleon’s fleet

The sixth book in the series is TENACIOUS. Kydd is in Halifax enjoying the recognition and favour of his fellow officers when his ship Tenacious is summoned to join Nelson’s taskforce on an urgent reconnaissance mission.

One reviewer said of this book:

    ‘More sea adventures of Thomas Kydd, this time meeting Horatio Nelson and taking part in the cataclysmic Battle of the Nile, where an outgunned British fleet takes on the might of ascendant France off the coast of Egypt in a blazing, history-changing, battle. The historical research is flawless, the battle scenes are horrific, Kydd’s efforts to become a gentleman are heart-rending, and the unending philosophical struggles of Nicholas Renzi are capped by a mortal sickness. I am totally hooked on this delightful series. It’s a 5!’

(I rather liked that review…)

The Battle of the Nile

The Battle of the Nile

I’m sometimes asked had my original conception of Tom and Renzi altered much by the time I’d got the first half dozen or so books completed.
Yes, in some ways it had. Probably the main change was in the relationship between Kydd and Renzi. At first I thought Renzi would just be a useful foil to Kydd and as a vehicle for passing on elements of refinement on Kydd’s road to becoming a gentleman – but as successive books were written Renzi took on a new importance. Not only did he become a pivotal character in his own right but he needed Kydd as much as Kydd needed him.

The historical backdrop

In terms of material for TENACIOUS I was spoiled for choice. It was a time of titanic global stakes. If the Nile or Acre had been lost we would have seen Napoleon dominating a world which would have been very different today. And it was a time of deeds so incredible that they may seem like fantasy but are not – Nelson personally saving the king and queen of Naples at cutlass point, Minorca taken without the loss of a single man – and above all, the astonishing but little-known fact that Napoleon was first defeated on land not by a great army but a rag-tag bunch of sailors commanded by a maverick Royal Navy captain.


One of the highlights of my location research was Minorca. The charming island boasts a magnificent harbour, one of the finest in the world – nearly four miles long and a maximum width of close to half a mile.

The British occupied Minorca at three different periods in history, the last being from 1798 to 1802. It was interesting to compare it to Gibraltar, which admittedly was very strategic, being at the mouth of the Mediterranean, but because the Rock stuns the winds, it was not a very good harbour for a fleet. Minorca, on the other hand, was ­– and is – a fine sheltered harbour, certainly more in the geographic centre of things in the eighteenth century.


Kathy atop Vesuvius

Kathy atop Vesuvius

Ah, Naples. Glorious Naples! How I would have loved to have been there when Nelson sailed in to the magnificent bay with his battered ship and two other vessels of his squadron to be greeted by hundreds of boats full of joyous passengers – and the king of Naples in the royal barge. The feting of the heroes of the Nile didn’t stop there. There were parties – and a grand reception at which Emma Hamilton performed her famous ‘attitudes’. It’s not known when Emma and Nelson first became actual lovers, but it’s clear that Naples was a turning point for them…

Emma Hamilton

Emma Hamilton

In the book I decided to have Sir William Hamilton, a classical scholar and amateur scientist of renown, invite Kydd and Renzi to join him on a visit to Herculaneum, promising to take in Vesuvius on the way. One hot morning Kathy and I followed in their footsteps up to the fabled volcano and peered through sulphurous mists down into the hellish depths of the crater.

Local research

Well, closer to home, the Admiralty Hydrographic Office at Taunton, Somerset, proved most helpful allowing me access to charts of time and one of the actual maps used in the siege. I cherish maps and charts and could have spent the whole day there!

The book’s dedication

It was one of those happy coincidences that TENACIOUS was published in 2005, the year of the bicentenary celebrations of Nelson’s great victory of Trafalgar. I knew there could only be one dedication for my book:

    ‘There is but one Nelson.’ –Lord St Vincent

When I began the Kydd series, as I plotted out the general content of each book, I knew my central character Thomas Kydd would meet Nelson at some time. No writer in this genre can tell of the stirring events in the great age of fighting sail without being aware of Nelson at the centre. But it was not Trafalgar that I selected for this first meeting; it was at the Battle of the Nile – in my mind Nelson’s finest hour.

In the course of my research for this book my admiration for Nelson – which was already considerable – increased immeasurably. He was undoubtedly a true genius as a leader of men, but he also had a great humanity and such respect for the lower deck that he insisted on adding a pair of common seamen to his knightly coat of arms.

Copyright notices
Battle of the Nile: By George Arnald [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons;
Emma Hamilton: Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Every effort is made to honour copyright but if we have inadvertently published an image with missing or incorrect attribution, on being informed of this, we undertake to delete the image or add a correct credit notice

21 Comments on “Tenacious: the hunt for Napoleon’s fleet”

  1. Pingback: KyddFest-7: Tenacious | Julian Stockwin

  2. dear jules,
    after kydd was captured and the exchanged wouldnt he have had to given his Parole” by promising not to continue to fight against his releasers? just wondering..
    fred from nashville

  3. I almost never comment, however i did some searching and wound up
    here Tenacious: the hunt for Napoleon’s fleet | Julian Stockwin. And I do have a couple of
    questions for you if it’s allright.
    And, if you are posting at additional social sites, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post.
    Could you make a list of every one of your communal pages
    like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  4. A good friend told me about your Kydd series and I
    can’t wait to wade into them. Hopefully, I will be able to catch up to “Tenacious” before you come out with number seven!

  5. Pingback: COMMAND: the watershed book | Julian Stockwin

  6. I love maps too. At a Napoleon exhibition in our local art gallery, I saw the actual map, that he used to plan his strategies to conquer Europe. I could not believe, how huge it was, easily covering an entire room in a normal house. Were the actual maps for the siege, shown to you at the the Admiralty Hydrographic Office at Taunton, Somerset, as big?

    • No, aboard ship you had limited space and the standard chart size today evolved into this size pretty early on. The Army could use the floors of headquarters, I guess…

  7. I buy a lot of ebooks for my Color Nook and have purchased the first two of your series on Kydd. I went to buy the third but was amazed to see it listed for $16.99 and all of the others were $9.99 or so. How come?

    • Authors don’t set the price of ebooks but I will pass this on to my US publisher and get back to you. I think you are referring to MUTINY, the fourth book, which is listed at $16.99.

  8. Julian,

    I have read all of your books and enjoyed them immensely. You have captured well the time, places and events in your stories of Thomas Kydd. In 1994-1996 I was a volunteer crew on the Elissa, an iron barque, berthed in Galveston, Texas. She was built in 1877 by Alexander Hall in Aberdeen, Scotland. My time aloft and at sea on the Elissa has enhanced by appreciation of the men that served in the Royal Navy along side Thomas Kydd.

    John E. Cutler

  9. Thank you so much for all your great work (books, blogs, & newsletter). You have made life much more enjoyable! All the best, John Q. Wilson

  10. There seems to be a prevalent opinion in our society that events naturally and inevitably unfolded along certain lines. So the Royal Navy “had” to beat the French in the Napoleonic period, or the RAF “had” to win the Battle of Britain, etc.

    Any book that can make the reader realize how precarious the situation really was during the unfolding of great events, and how important a single man (in this case, Nelson) could be, is a great book…

    Jim Yaworsky

  11. I am reading the series and am currently reading Privateers Revenge and I enjoyed Tenacious very much. I have read the Hornblower, Jack Aubry, and Alan Lewrie series’ and find the Tom Kydd series to be as good or better than these.

  12. I stumbled across the first book in the series by accident and was immediately hooked. I’ve since read them all and eagerly await the next. They never disappoint.

  13. I got a kick out of your reference quote: ‘There is but one Nelson.’ –Lord St Vincent’

    Seems like somewhere I have read there was an original corollary word, omitted for more polite quotation. ‘There is but one Nelson, thankfully.’ – Lord St Vincent

  14. I recently found the 1978 published Walder biography of Nelson at a book sale and purchased it mostly for the account of Trafalgar and aftermath. Walder notes that Nelson made better use of his frigates than did Villaneuve, even as he complained he had too few of them. Eventually I would have gotten to the section the Nile. Now, I’ll be sure to read Walder’s account of Nelson and Emma Hamilton at Naples also.

    I think one of the most interesting things in the book is inclusion of Wellington’s meeting and conversations with Nelson, although it has nothing to do with any of the above.

  15. While there are so many factors that make your writing and this series so enjoyable, I very strongly believe the key is the depth of your research and personal visits to the various venues. Thanks for a great read.

      • Whenever I get to the battle scenes, which you so wonderfully recall, I begin to perspire and have to kick off the blanket covering me in my chair. My wife said the other day, “What are you doing? It’s cold in here!”

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