KyddFest-2: Artemis

Over the coming months I’ll be celebrating the earlier titles in the Kydd Series, it’s Artemis for this blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book, either as a first-time reader or if you’re a re-reader and have read the book more than once! It’s very gratifying for an author to be told that his work has inspired people to go back an read it again. And some of you have told me you have done this more than twice! Either reply to this blog or email me. Every respondent goes into the hat for a chance to win a very special thank-you prize: a limited edition print of the cover of Artemis.


The riotously exuberant Portsmouth Point

‘It’s remarkable how quickly the interest in colourful naval adventure has grown in recent years. Foremost among able practitioners is Julian Stockwin and his book, Artemis, which builds on the solid achievements of the much-acclaimed Kydd; here again is the same flinty characterisation, stunning narrative skills and (most of all) considerable imaginative skill in evoking the wind-lashed atmosphere of the best nautical novels: full of sharp detail and keenly evoked atmosphere.

It’s the great age of fighting sail, when the seven seas are stalking grounds for prey and prize money. Aboard the crack frigate HMS Artemis, life can be invigorating – and short. Now a fully fledged Jack Tar, Stockwin’s doughty hero Kydd returns to Portsmouth and a hero’s welcome after cutting a bloody swathe through French ships. But urgent family matters force him to return to Guildford where he finds himself less able to cope than he was at sea. Soon, land-bound life is chafing him, and Kydd is happily back on Artemis setting out for the Far East, and encounters with some lethal opponents. After a grim encounter with slavers, Kydd finds himself facing his own mortality in the waters of the Great Southern Ocean. Stockwin’s particular ability (among so many) is his fastidious evocation of life aboard a sailing ship and the tensions that exist between the men locked into this dangerous life. The dialogue may take a little getting used to, but it’s quickly apparent that this is one of the author’s key strengths: this, you feel, is how these men really spoke. Most of all, though, it’s the exhilarating recreation of the sailing life and its attendant dangers that keeps the reader transfixed.’
– Barry Forshaw, broadcaster and critic

My Sea Artefacts

As I wrote in the Author’s Note to Artemis, at my desk is a length of rope from the 74 gun ship-of-the-line HMS Invincible that two centuries ago struck on the sands off Selsey Bill. The rope still smells of sea and Stockholm tar. I have other relics, too; a seaman’s tankard, a gunlock flint – an Admiralty issue clerk’s writing kit – each one bringing that far-away world straight into my consciousness. This I value above all things – as the one thing that I would most like the reader to take away from my books is a perception of the reality of Kydd’s world.

The Kydd Collection

Superb Limited Edition Print prize!

Superb limited edition prints of the first eight of the Kydd series book covers, based on original paintings commissioned from Geoff Hunt RSMA, are available from Art Marine. All respondents to this blog (and emails about the blog) go into the hat for a chance to win a print of Artemis. Deadline: Monday 22 February. I have the prints framed and hanging in my Devon home and they all draw admiring comments but Artemis has always been my favourite! There’s something about the movement of the frigate and the power of the Great Southern Ocean that is very compelling.

Minor character spotlight: Quashee

In Chapter one of Artemis, Kydd joins his mess and is introduced to Quashee: ‘If yer wants to raise a right decent sea-pie, he’s your man…’ Quashee’s ancestors were Akan-speaking Ashanti, sold into slavery by Arabs and eventually brought to Jamaica. A revolt by a kinsman, Cudjoe, resulted in a treaty with the British that established the Maroons, escaped slaves who had set up their own settlements in the mountains, as free people. Quashee’s easy nature came from his family; his mother was renowned for her peach-fed iguana while his father’s talent at gaily decorated yabba pots and gourds ensured they would not have to toil for long in a grung (smallholding).


A wonderful half-model of Artemis presented to me by Bob Squarebriggs

As a young man Quashee tired of the posturing of the proud Maroon youth and shipped out in a coaster trading with Charleston in the US. There, to his dismay, he was several times mistaken for a notorious escaped slave, and to avoid this had to sign on as a cook in a humble Honduran mahogany drogher. War came to the Caribbean, and the Port Royal naval base filled with men-o’-war. Quashee was quite taken with the pomp and ceremony, and offered his services to a large frigate where he was told that a cook in the Royal Navy was a warrant officer, but that if he volunteered as a landman he would soon make a fine sailor. The frigate sailed for home and paid off in England, her company turned over into HMS Artemis.

Previous blog on Artemis
ARTEMIS: Sailing seven seas
Artemis has been published in the UK/US in English, French, German and Japanese and in ebook, large print and audiobook.
Buy on Amazon or The Book Depository (free postage worldwide!) Also available at most bookstores.
Detailed list

49 Comments on “KyddFest-2: Artemis

  1. Love the books, I have already re-read the whole series, can’t wait for the next one.

  2. Writing about life aboard the wool clipers of the late 19th century your books have alowed me to imaine with amazing clarity life a board a windship. The books are all rather addictive, yet like a good wine they get better with each reading…..fair winds and smooth seas Julian.

  3. Julian your series of books have given me so much enjoyment time and time again. And when time normally flys by year on year, your latest release seems to take a lifetime!
    Roll on October, Inferno is needed by this reader

  4. As a long term fan of Capt. Kydd, I am thinking it is time to go back and reread from the beginning. I own the entire collection (all purchased new) and Stockwin’s Maritime Miscellany (signed) except for Tyger which I can’t afford at this time. I hope you won’t hold this against me! 😉

    You have given me great joy in this series and hope you will continue the grand saga.

    Thanks for the memories and anticipation.


  5. Artemis is, so far, my favorite Kydd novel, and, as more books keep developing Kydd’s career, my appreciation for Artemis grows. In Artemis one can see the direction in which his character is heading.

    M Burton Hopkins Jr “He who would break a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.” JRR Tolkien


  6. julian, as ive said many times in my emails to you, i have loved the kydd takes me to places and sttitudes i have never been even though ive read most of the famous authors who have written of this era. IF i had a slight ( and believe me i mean slight) criticism its the extreme anger/depression that both kydd and renzie are capable of. im glad to see them slack off a little as the series continues. i dont know what ill do after the series ends. ill need your recommendations.
    fred from nashville

  7. I first discovered the ‘Tom Kydd’ series when I was strolling through a charity shops book section. (Ironically I was looking for another Patrick O’Brian book.) I had only just become a follower to our British naval it was then that I found ‘Kydd’. To be honest when I was reading the beginning I was starting to question if I had done right by buying it. However was I glad I had. Without even knowing it I had finished reading the whole story. Once I had finished I went straight to my Tab 2 and bought the whole series from ‘Kydd’ all the way to ‘Victory’ and then onto ‘betrayal’ which was due for release quite soon after I started reading.
    All I can say is thank you for all these amazing stories of action, daring and bravery. I find myself getting drawn into the life of one ‘Tom Kydd’ and his everyday fight for survival in the open seas and seemingly endless enemies.
    I have now read and re-read the entire series atleast 5 times. I have bought each new release on the days of release each time, and now I find myself in want of the next release.
    Looking forward to reading you next release.

  8. Ok, Artemis is another one of your extraordinary swashbuckling, sea-lubber’s delight, strengthening the Kydd character and all his friends on ship, and off, with a realism unparalleled in my 6 years of nautical-noveling. With each stroke of the quill, I get the feeling that the crew is in my living room, tying their knots, mending sails, throwing up in my suppers while the Captain rides her fast against the wind!! If I only squint my eyes, I am able to see Thomas, and his merry band, waving as they careen against the setting sun!! This series should be a movie! I’ve already produced it on my head,thanks to you, Mr. STOCKWIN!! I recently took up painting myself, and thanks to this series–my first painting was of a frigate on Stormy Seas!! I can’t get Kydd out of my head!!

  9. Geoff Hunt is a superb marine artist, and not only of the sailing navy. I have several of his books of paintings. Incidentally he did his own version of the riotous Portsmouth Point you show for the cover of Patrick O’Brian’s book “The Reverse of the Medal”. But Hunt’s version is much more decorous!

  10. I haven’t caught up, but I’ve gone back for re-reads, especially of the first three books multiple times.

    This print would look stellar in my office! 😉

  11. Started reading Tyger 2 days ago, almost finished today. They just hook me in completely. Artemis as, with all of your novels, was another rattling read, I just can’t get enough of Kydd. I spent 25 years in the Royal Navy (submarine service) and ofter wonder how I would have faired in a 18th Century Frigate. Planning a visit to Hartlepool to see the frigate HMS Trimcomalee to get an idea of what life would have been like on the mess deck of a frigate. My first introduction to sea novels was Patrick O’Brian, as I got to the end of his novels I began to panic, but then I discover Kydd so have another helping of salty sea tales to enjoy. Don’t stop!

  12. I am on my third read through of all the Kydd books. I came across your books looking for a replacement Naval fiction writer after Patrick O’Brien passed away. At the time I was convinced I would never find another author to replace him but I am glad to say you have done this and more. Keep up the excellent work. Many thanks.

  13. Artemis,

    The first book I discovered from the Kydd series, this was while aboard the MV Oceana heading through the Bay of Biscay on my way to a Western Med cruise with my wife. I stumbled across the library (I say stumbled as the Bay was at its best) and there it was, to say the book had me hooked would be an understatement, this was in sept 2009 during a two week break around the med and no further acces to the Kydd series, I had the book read within three nights! And wanted more.

    Thank god for Internet acces onboard, I purchased all that were available so that they would be waiting for me upon our return home.

    I have to be honest, I horde my books and will re-read a series quite happily and this I have done at least three times now with the Kydd series.

    Julian has an exceptional talent at keeping you as a reader captivated, Kydd and Renzi are excellent characters, who may have their differences but form a strong bonding as friends whom only those which have experienced extream circumstances together could.

    Keep up the good work Julian and long may it continue.


    Wesley Rickward

  14. Julian

    I stopped reading paper or hardbacks in preference to my Ipad, which has all but some of your early Kydd titles. I do not believe in buying any book twice.
    I was hooked from the first Kydd book,and although not all the following Kydd titles were as engrossing, I am now reading some of them for the third time.
    I spend a few weeks each year in Menorca, an island I know quite well, historically, geographically and from circumnavigating it several times. The incident with the signals from El Toro to the fleet needed investigation from land and sea and I remain to be convinced the signals could be seen at 8 miles. But then you did not describe the magnification of the shipboard telescope and in any event you must be credited with a fair dolop of artistic licence.
    I enjoy your competitions, your blogs and emails. Although I am sure it is commercially to your advantage, your communication with your readers is without parrallel. May it long continue


    Chris Yates

    PS The European rather than the African side of the Med should be a fertile area for more Kydd exploits

  15. You’re quite right, Robert. The Great Southern Ocean is the only one on the planet that completely encircles the globe therefore both the prevailing winds and the swells, waves etc. are all in one direction from west to east. If ‘Artemis’ has to ‘run her easting down’ she’ll be going large all the way just as Geoff has it in this stunning and realistic painting.

  16. I have read most of the Kydd books multiple times. Kydd & Artemis were the first to volumes I picked up from a discount shelf at a book chain. I had enjoyed Forrester & O’Brian and dabbled in a few other tall ships authors. Artemis really sealed the deal for me as a series I could get into and could become a favourite.
    One of the values of re-reading the books is recognizing how characters come around again as the epic narrative unfolds.
    I think Artemis, for me, sets the course of the series as Tom moves from embracing the life of the sea to embracing the role of a naval man. A fowl weather jack aye, but also one with innate leadership qualities.
    There is, for me, a freedom in Artemis that weaves its way through the whole series. Like a great Caribbean or Prairie sunset, you can’t always describe it or capture it, but you can sure enjoy the view when you encounter it.

  17. In the painting Artemis looks like she is sailing in a following sea and is in danger of broaching.
    That’s the feeling I get when I look at the painting ,noting the shadow of the masts on the sails,superb!you can smell the salt in the air

  18. Thank you for the link to Art Marine. Having slept in a hammock on the then Foudroyant in Portsmouth I have become a fan of Royal Navy historical fiction and all Maritime Museums. Thank you for your wonderful series. I await each one eagerly as they become available in Canada.
    Anthony Heazell

  19. I am a big fan of the Kydd series. I have all of the books and have recently begun to reread them.  I love stories of the Golden age of sail and especially those concerning the men and ships of the Royal Navy.  I believe that the hardest task for any author to accomplish is to bring their characters to life – to make them real enough for the reader to care about what happens to them.  In Artemis, you admirably continue that process with Thomas Kydd. Much more than Horatio Hornblower or Allen Lewrie, Kydd lives. Bob Vanderweel Honeoye Falls, NY.

    Sent from my Galaxy Tab® E

  20. Thank you Julian. I have don’t like the thought of your Kydd series ever coming to an end, so I trust you will live long enough, and have the energy and inspiration to write many more. To date I have not re-read any of your Kydd books but a feeling is growing that the time is ripe to do so. And starting with Kydd the wig-maker from Guildford. Thank you for your considerable contribution to the body of works on this period of Royal Navy history. Go well!

  21. Jules I find myself re-reading all or parts of every book several times. A friend gifted me many of the earlier volumes so she and I maintain an ongoing correspondence based on your series. Questions resolved by re-reading. Thanks for an enjoyable read. John

  22. Sir I have re-read your books several times usually the last one before the new one comes out to stay fresh. Two of your books VIctory and Tyger have actually brought me to tears. Special request bring back the Admirals daughter she was good for Capt Kydd if you could. Thank you for the adventures.

  23. I did enjoy writing this one, Keri! That’s not to say I haven’t had great pleasure creating the others but ARTEMIS remains one of my favourites.

  24. Funnily enough, I started re-reading Artemis again recently. It’s always been one of my favourite books in the series, by a long chalk, and I think that has as much to do with Kydd’s sheer pleasure in his skills as a seaman as anything else. All the details are so wonderfully presented, I can almost smell the salt in the air.

  25. What a wonderful adventure! Going to read this one more than once!
    Thank You
    Mike Martin

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