VICTORY: Kydd at Trafalgar

A regular feature looking back on each of the Kydd titles – with story background, research highlights, writing challenges and more.

And thank you for all your kind comments on the post about my tenth book, Invasion.

The eleventh book in the Kydd series is Victory, which climaxes in Kydd’s involvement in Trafalgar, one of the grandest battle spectacles in history.


Praise for the book
Well-written mixture of high-seas adventure and character-based drama . . . impossible not to enjoy!’ — Booklist

Elegantly plotted . . . the writing has the power of a broadside at close range’ — Oxford Times

This book is as fresh as the first to be published . . . the characters have matured as the tales unfolded and each story adds a new layer of complexity . . . a fictional tale that takes forward the careers of his two heroes in such a natural way that they feel to be a genuine part of history, interacting with the real story of Nelson, Trafalgar and Victory’ — Firetrench

Location research

The main focus for research for this book was Portsmouth in the county of Hampshire. I was privileged to have been given virtually unlimited access to the HMS Victory. As you can probably imagine I spent many contented hours aboard…

Although I know Portsmouth very well, having been quartered in the city during my time in the Navy, and also having visited on location research for earlier Kydd books, I never seem to tire of ‘Pompey’ and its maritime attractions. For Victory I spent quite some time in Old Portsmouth, too, much of which stands just as it did in Kydd’s day.

Another locale for research for this book was London, both the physical city and the river Thames, as well as museums, archives and libraries – and I had spent time in the Mediterranean area on previous location research trips.

Three captains…
Captain Gabriel Catolino

Captain Gabriel Catolino

I love being sent photographs of readers with my books but in the case of Victory I was somewhat taken aback to find I had been sent three rather special ones – three ship captains, each holding Victory!

Captain Gabriel Catolino is commander of a destroyer squadron in the Argentinian navy. Captain Catolino enjoys historical maritime fiction and told me he immediately became a Kydd fan after reading Victory.

Captain Paul Wright of Cunard’s Queen Victoria was presented with a copy of Victory by one of my readers, fittingly, as the ship rounded Cape Trafalgar!

Captain (now Commodore) Jerry Kyd, the last Commanding Officer of HMS Ark Royal, graciously posed with Victory with Victory in the background. He was recently appointed the first seagoing Captain of the Royal Navy’s brand new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Writing challenges
Captain Jerry Kyd, then commanding officer of HMS Ark Royal HMS Victory in background

Captain Jerry Kyd, then commanding officer of HMS Ark Royal
HMS Victory in background

When I first began the series I knew that at one point I’d have to deal with Trafalgar, but as I was only in 1793, at book one, I was able to put my concerns about writing about such a famous event to one side, and get on with the business to hand. However, when I finished Invasion, I had to face the special challenges of Victory. How could I bring something fresh and new to such a well-known story? In the end I decided to do this by having two perspectives on the battle, one of my hero in his ship, and the other from a lowly midshipman aboard Victory herself.

Another problem was that while I have a huge admiration for Nelson (which, if anything, increased as I was writing the book) he is a huge presence on the maritime stage and I didn’t want him to take over the story

Nelson’s prayer

On the morning of October 21, 1805, with the combined fleets of France and Spain in sight, Nelson wrote this prayer, which I still find very moving to read :

    May the Great God, whom I worship, grant to my Country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory; and may no misconduct in any one, tarnish it and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature of the British Fleet. For myself individually, I commit my life to Him who made me and may His blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my Country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Milestone in the series
Captain Peter Wright of <em>Queen Victoria</em>

Captain Peter Wright of Queen Victoria

Victory completed the trilogy (which included the previous two titles: Treachery and Invasion) that dealt with the incredible events in the two years leading up to Napoleon’s defeat at Trafalgar in 1805. Victory was a milestone in the Kydd series; it featured the last of the big set-piece naval battles. Trafalgar removed the sceptre of invasion and Great Britain was released to seek conquests and colonies in the furthest reaches of the world. In subsequent books Kydd finds himself at the forefront of this race to wrest empire from the French and Dutch in exotic and little-known corners of the world.

Read more about Victory on earlier blogs

10 Comments on “VICTORY: Kydd at Trafalgar

  1. Pingback: KyddFest-12:- Victory | Julian Stockwin

  2. Pingback: BookPick: Nelson’s Victory, 250 Years of War and Peace | Julian Stockwin

  3. Pingback: CONQUEST: the Race to Empire Begins! | Julian Stockwin

  4. I just started “Victory” (late) last night, and went through the first chapter in a rush. It may be one of your best, if not one of the best in the genre that I’ve read. I cannot wait to continue today.

  5. From the very first “KYDD” I was hooked and have followed/bought every issue and eagerly await its successor.

  6. I love the Age of Sail…
    Thank god that we have a long naval history here in Holland as well !
    Would realy like to read the book.

  7. 20 Years ago this year as a member of the RNZN I had the privilege to serve in HMS VICTORY for six months on Exercise LongLook and reading the many descriptions of Portsmouth mentioned in the book I can see in my mind the Street or area being talked about. Many thanks Julian for bringing back many wonderful memories of both VICTORY and Portsmouth.

  8. Don’t know if I mentioned it to you before but on http://www.gutenberg.org, there is an account of the death of Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar as written by his attending ships doctor during the battle. It also has some details of the preparations on board leading up to the battle. Free download. (love ’em). Fascinating, written in the language of the times rather than some author’s modern version of what they think it might sound like. Love these old writings, they describe little pieces of common everyday items information that many authors, both fiction and nonfiction, leave out. Best Gordon Levine

  9. You mention that Victory “featured the last of the big set-piece naval battles.” Am I foolish to hope that Mr. Kydd, if spared, will find himself in the eastern Med in 1827?

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