BOOK REVIEW: AGAINST ALL ODDS

18 Mar

Stepback in time – it’s the Victorian era, when Great Britain is at the forefront of industrial development.  Based loosely on fact, author John Milton Langdon weaves a tale of romance and adventure on the high seas.  Against All Odds describes the early years of an average man.  Although he is born into humble circumstances, he shows how a combination of perserverance and intelligence, aided by a little good fortune, can help any child overcome the disadvantages of lowly birth status and a poor education.  If you long for a sense of wonderment in life read this first volume of a set of four, and discover how Jason Smiley Stewart transforms from callow village boy to a ship’s officer in Volume 1 of Jason Smiley Stewart – My Life Story.


John Milton Langdon is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and has a master’s degree in maritime civil engineering.  Langdon retired and became a professional writer after an active and rewarding engineering career.  Initially he worked in Britain but from 1972 until 2008, he dealt with project development in Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria.  Langdon lives in the Austrian town of Klagenfurt which has a history stretching back to mediaeval times.  Langdon has three children and five grandchildren from his first marriage and two step sons from the second.  Langdon has many interests including travel, the British canals, music and literature but hiking in the mountains surrounding his home is a preferred leisure activity.

John’s latest book is a historical fiction titled Against All Odds (Tate Publishing).

You can visit John Milton Langdon’s website at www.jmlangdon.com.

My Impressions:

Ahoy all lovers of nautical adventures!  Come explore the daring of going down to the sea in ships during Industrial Revolution England.  John Milton Langdon has produced a novel following the journey of Jason Smiley from an uneducated village boy to an English merchant ship’s officer in Against All Odds, volume 1 in the Life Story of Jason Smiley Stewart.  Told on his death bed, Jason begins at the beginning with his humble start as the son of a blacksmith, to the fortunate meeting with Captain Stewart, and onto the ship Earl Canning for his education as a ship cadet for a merchant sailing company.

There are adventures aplenty as Jason faces hurricanes, pirates, bar room brawls, sand storms, officer’s balls and a Board of Enquiry, to name just a few.  And if you are intrigued by ocean navigation and the intricacies of all things sailing, you are in luck.  Langdon, an engineer by trade, provides in great detail just what faced sailors of the 19th century.  There is some romance, too.

Langdon’s character, Jason Smiley is likable and honest in his narration of his journey toward maturity.  You will feel you are right in the thick of things with Smiley.  He takes you through the everyday duties of a ship’s officer and then quickly plunges you into the fray of adventure.

One thing I found interesting, though perhaps not intentional by the author, was the handling of Smiley’s spiritual life.  A church goer out of obligation and duty rather than religious zeal, Smiley is prayed for by his ship’s captain’s sister, the village vicar and others he meets along the way.  I think that is how many of us go through life — unaware of God’s presence in the mundane as well as extraordinary things of life.  And how often is God called to give us attention by those who love us without our knowing?

Recommended for those who like a good sailing yarn and for those who want to know the details of the sailing life.

If you would like a chance to win your own copy of Against All Odds, click here.


I received Against All Odds from Pump Up Your Book and the author in return for an honest review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Other Books In This Series By John Milton Langdon:

Telegraph Island — The industrial revolution in Britain is in full spate and electronic communication is in its infancy. Based loosely on fact author John Milton Langdon weaves a tale of romance and adventure on the high seas and in the Orient. Jason Smiley Stewart – My Life Story describes the life of an average man. Although he is born in humble circumstances, he shows how a combination of perseverance and intelligence aided by a little good fortune, can help any child overcome the disadvantages of a lowly birth status and poor education. In Telegraph Island, the second novel chronicling the life of Jason Smiley Stewart, the young man’s continuing adventures are described. He has his share of failure and success but once again demonstrates that his poor origins are no bar to fame and fortune when he leaves the life of a sailor to join the communication revolution in the Middle East and puts his courage to the test again.

Full Circle — The Industrial Revolution in Britain is in full spate and world travel has become the norm aboard steamships. The third in a series of thrilling novels, John Milton Langdon weaves a tale of romance and adventure on the high seas in Jason Smiley Stewart, My Life Story. An essential tool in the early frontier of telegraph communication, Jason Smiley Stewart is nothing similar to an average man. Born into humble circumstances, Stewart overcomes the disadvantages of lowly birth status and poor education, proving that with perseverance and intelligence, aided by a little good fortune, the impossible seems possible. With dangerous and unexpected surprises around every turn, Jason’s heroic story travels the seas of Australia and New Zealand, embarking on new beginnings and battling the storms of sorrow, and comes to port triumphantly in Jason Smiley Stewart, My Life Story.

Ring of Gold — In the fourth volume of Jason Smiley Stewart’s life story, Jason returns to New Zealand to search for Jamie Marshall his friend and gold mine partner who has unexpectedly disappeared. During his journey Jason successfully thwarts the murderous attacks made by an old enemy called Gravenor and then manages to release Jamie Marshall, who has been falsely imprisoned. Jason returns to Scotland and after many setbacks marries Mary Thomas the first love of his life.

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