‘I discovered Kydd in Kazakhstan!’

It always gives me a thrill to hear of my Kydd tales being read in particularly exotic or unusual locales. They’ve been up the Amazon, carried to the frozen North and choppered in to a remote mining town in Western Australia – to name just a few. Now I can add Kazakhstan to the list!

The June Reader of the Month is John Askew, who’s been involved in civil and structural engineering across a variety of fields. He’s now a CSA Design Lead/Discipline Application Specialist working in the oil and energy sector in Kazakhstan, central Asia. And in case you need a bit of a geography refresher it’s the world’s largest landlocked country by land area – in size, bigger than Western Europe!


Over to John…I originally came to Kazakhstan in 2002 to train the locals on 2D and 3D systems and how to utilise these systems in an integrated engineering environment – in short, how to use the latest technology to build refineries. As an expat I am on a rotation contract, 6 weeks in country and then 2 weeks at home. [When John goes home on leave these days it’s to Spain but he’s lived in many parts of the world visited by Kydd, including England, South Africa and Australia]

I discovered the Kydd series by accident. The hotel where we worked and lived, Riverside Palace, on the banks of the Ural River, had a book collection donated by other engineers. I read the blurb of the first book and was drawn in…..I lived at the time in Camberley and frequented Guildford often (cinemas!) so I had a connection immediately. Very soon I became addicted.

The thorough detailed descriptions of life on board a British Navy ship in those late 18th century days of war became vivid for me. I actually imagined myself ‘below decks’. The harsh reality of being conscripted and then accepting one’s fate and learning to deal with it was something I would have done. In Kydd’s case he decided to make the most out of his situation, become a good sailor and the rest is history as they say.

My wife and I visited Portsmouth in 2002 because of KYDD and took lots of pics, especially the beautiful HMS Victory. Alas my PC crashed and I lost them all. We need to go back one day, we have relatives in Devon so it may be an excuse during a family visit…

I would say without question the first book was – and still is – my favourite. It tells of the journey from apprentice wig maker to accepting a harsh new life without question, but it’s to a far more exciting, challenging and rewarding life.

My favourite character would be Kydd, followed by his friend and confidante Renzi.

John Askew and his wife

John Askew and his wife

I especially enjoyed the books COMMAND; where he sails for Australia (I was living in Perth from 2005 to 2007 when this was published, having family in Tasmania and Queensland) and CONQUEST; where he takes over control of the Cape Colony. I lived in South Africa for many years and have family there, too, in the Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng.

Unfortunately my only connection with the sea is my cousin who was in the Royal Navy for some time in the 60’s, eventually becoming Petty Officer. I have lived as much as possible by the sea in the UK, Teignmouth and Torquay; in Spain, Malaga and El Campello; in South Africa, Mossel bay and in Australia, Perth. My wife and I both love the smell, the sound and the vastness of the ocean to gaze upon every morning….maybe a longing in the genes to go back to where we all came from.

My Parents are also living nearby in El Campello overlooking the sea. My father, who is 85 in December, is now an avid reader of Thomas Kydd’s adventures. I gave him my copy of KYDD last year and he reads all the books now like a machine! Needless to say, I have to order the new hardback for his birthday!


Would you like to be a candidate for Reader of the Month? Just get in touch with a few sentences about your background and why you enjoy the Kydd series!

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One Comment on “‘I discovered Kydd in Kazakhstan!’

  1. Pingback: 2014: the year in review | Julian Stockwin

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