A young captain Nathaniel Drinkwater is given command of an old ship, the Virago, to be sent to the Baltic as a bomb vessel. Drinkwater’s ambition is to turn the Virago back into a fighting ship, but his plans are thwarted. At the same time, Drinkwater’s brother appeals for help in his desperate attempt to escape the gallows. As Sir Hyde Parker’s fleet approaches the Danish coast, the Virago joins the battle. Amid gales and ice, Drinkwater strives to save his ship and his brother.It is 1801 and Napoleon is reaching supreme power in France and has allied himself with Tsar Paul of Russia. Against this hazardous backdrop, Drinkwater’s actions in the complex and bloody battle of Copenhagen are crucial.
Captain Richard Martin Woodman retired in 1997 from a 37-year nautical career. Woodman's Nathaniel Drinkwater series is often compared to the work of the late Patrick O'Brian. Woodman is the author of some two dozen nautical novels, as well as several nonfiction books. Unlike many other modern naval historical novelists, such as C.S. Forester or O'Brian, he has served afloat. He went to sea at the age of sixteen as an indentured midshipman and spent eleven years in command. His experience ranges from cargo-liners to ocean weather ships and specialist support vessels to yachts, square-riggers, and trawlers. Said Lloyd's List of his work: "As always, Richard Woodman's story is closely based on actual historical events. All this we have come to expect—and he adds that special ambience of colourful credibility which makes his nautical novels such rattling good reads."
Although there's some good sea action in Woodman's new Nathaniel Drinkwater adventure, the chief attraction is the vivid depiction of the politics of Europe and the Royal Navy in Lord Nelson's day. In 1800, Lieut. Nathaniel Drinkwater wangles a command for himself though it's only aboard the "bomb tender" Virago, a 40-year-old former mortar ship. After Drinkwater makes Virago shipshape, she plays an important role in the 1801 attack on Copenhagen. En route to this climactic battle, Drinkwater contends with Navy politics, a cowardly blackguard of a purser, his own fugitive brother and, not least, the Danish artillery. The corruption, snobbery and pigheadedness of the Navy Office, "those portals of perfidy and corruption," is nicely conveyed, as is the Navy lore, augmented by an interesting, low-key portrait of the great Nelson.
Packed with exciting incident worthy of wide appeal to those who love thrilling nautical encounters and the sea.
There is no doubt that Nathaniel Drinkwater rates up there with the best of the nautical world.
Well written and exciting.
Woodman knows his ships and the sea and is a craftsman of great ability.
Brilliantly told . . . the characters are real and lively, the language similar; but above all it is a convincing and compulsive seafaring story.
Action to the bone, no romantic bilge-water.
. . . for all who like to read about naval action in the 19th century, told with gusto and bravura.