The Commodore’s Gift by Mandy Eve-Barnett

Book Description

Under the Buldrick Empire’s rule, Owena finds herself fighting alongside a rebel force. Her aptitude for strategy and swordsmanship come to the fore. When she meets Galen, not only does she fall in love but becomes even more determined to join the fight to restore the rightful King to the throne.

My Review

I was sent a digital copy of The Commodore’s Gift by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Mandy Eve-Barnett!

This story takes place in England, during an undetermined century/decade. It is a steampunk version of the country, with mechanical, steam-driven vehicles as well as horse-drawn carriages.

The country is run by the usurper King Buldrick and his cruel second in command, Commodore Theodore Gripe-Rudhall. It is a man’s world where women are expected to wear long dresses and adopt acceptable roles, with a future path of husband – house – children. This path is not of interest to the feisty main character, Owena.

We first meet Owena amidst a group of rebels trying to escape soldiers of the Buldrick Empire following an attack on a marketplace. Owena, her friend Josephine, brother Benjamin, Ernest, William and Thomas make up the group. There are occasionally flashbacks in the narrative to help tell the backstory which I found a little confusing at first, until I got used to the writer’s style.

Owena, a skilled nurse, shows herself to be spirited, brave, full of inventive ideas and strategies – she hopes to become an asset to the Resistance movement, but must prove herself to her companions and then to Gaston Cote, the leader of the resistance. She manages all of this admirably and falls in love with Galen, “a giant of a man”, along the way. I found the romance parts with Galen to be slightly annoying (I’m not a fan of romance) and did not really feel that they added much to the story.

Owena is a likeable character. She devises a plan to trap a large number of the soldiers and hopefully also their leader, the Commodore in a gorge. She picked up military strategy while playing with toy soldiers with her brother as a child and her favourite pursuits were tomboy in nature: fencing and horse-riding. Her character develops substantially through the story and she becomes vengeful and driven – a far cry from the frightened genteel nurse we met in chapter one.

Josephine is more typical of a female of the time, being content with nursing and growing vegetables to aid the resistance while Owena dreams of fighting beside her beloved Galen as an equal.

The Commodore is the antagonist in this story. He has a clockwork eye held in place by a leather hood covering a quarter of his face. It clicks and whirrs as he turns his head. He travels in a mechanical carriage driven by a steam engine. His evil exploits are well-known:

“Gripe-Rudhall has no soul, no feelings – he is the devil.”

Alongside Owena’s story we have the story of Marcus and his wife Lillian. Lillian is living at the Resistance camp, situated in a hidden cavern, and is terrified for her husband who was captured by the Commodore. Theodore Gripe-Rudhall has imprisoned Marcus the toymaker and insisted he make a gift for the Pretend King – a “unique animated clockwork figurine” three times life sized to guarantee the gift’s prestige.

Marcus is working for the resistance, however, and has a surprise in store for the King and the Commodore.

The Commodore’s Gift is an intriguing story with just the right amount of action and subterfuge, and with a couple of unexpected twists along the way. I would recommend it to readers who like a spirited female protagonist fighting against societal expectations of her “fair sex”, rebellions and steampunk elements.

Amazon | goodreads

About the Author

Mandy currently lives in Alberta, Canada but is originally from England. Her background is diverse and gives her rich experience to utilize in her writing. She has traveled throughout Europe, parts of America and Canada and was born in Africa.

Mandy is passionate about writing to the point of obsession and she succeeded in becoming a published author in record time. Mandy’s venture into freelance writing has been successful and she regularly contributes to Strathcona Connect, an e-zine and the Never Been Better page in the Sherwood Park newspaper as well as satisfying numerous clients. She is also the Secretary for her local writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and Past President of the Arts and Culture Council of Strathcona County.

Writing in various genres, Mandy has been published in anthologies, on numerous web sites as well as regularly blogging about her writing journey.

Her published works is constantly growing with numerous manuscripts pending and ideas flowing there is no end to her stories. Each tale has a base theme of love in all it forms. Mandy has a deep love of the natural world and a childlike wonder of the magical realm.

For more of Mandy’s books please visit

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