HMS Ulysses (novel)

HMS Ulysses (Novel)

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HMS Ulysses (novel)

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HMS Ulysses was the first novel by Scottish author Alistair MacLean, and ultimately, one of his most popular. Originally published in 1955, it was also released by Fontana Books in 1960. MacLean’s personal experiences in the Royal Navy during World War II provided the background material and the ill-fated PQ-17 convoy to Murmansk provided the basis for the story.

Plot summary

The novel features a light cruiser, one of a unique type similar to the real Dido class cruisers (MacLean had served on HMS Royalist of that class), extremely well armed and among the fastest ships in the world. Her crew is pushed well beyond the limits of endurance, and the book starts in the aftermath of a mutiny on board. The Ulysses puts to sea again to escort a vital convoy FR-77 (based on the ill-fated Convoy PQ-17) heading for Murmansk. Predictably, they are beset by numerous plot elements: an unusually fierce Arctic storm, German ships and U-boats, as well as airborne attacks. All slowly reduce the convoy from 32 ships to only five. The Ulysses herself is lost, fittingly, in a failed attempt to ram an attacking cruiser after all her other weapons had been destroyed. This echoes true stories in which British G-class destroyer HMS Glowworm and HMS Jervis Bay, an armed Merchant Cruiser, sacrificed themselves by engaging larger opponents.

In what became a trait of MacLean's style, the book uses a relatively predictable set of events to paint moving portrayals of the crew and the human aspects of...
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