From the tide-torn waters of the Thames, where Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater is compelled to handle a deserter, to the seas off Cape Horn, storm-scoured gateway to the Pacific, the great cruiser Patrician is tense with the threat of mutiny. Despite this, Drinkwater captures a Spanish frigate and meets the stunning Doña Ana Maria, daughter of the Commandante of San Francisco. But having disturbed a hornet’s nest of colonial intrigue, Drinkwater finds that the Spanish are eager to humiliate him and the Royal Navy. Moreover, a Russian battleship lurks somewhere offshore, pursuing Tsar Alexander’s dark plans. Caught between two formidable enemies, Drinkwater’s mission is made impossible by treachery.
But chance brings the aid of Doña Ana Maria and a mysterious mountain man. In the distant waters of this beautiful and remote region, Drinkwater struggles to carry out his mission and is struck with the most extraordinary twist of fortune in his eventful life.
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."
Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater, R.N., now seems to be repeating events in his life. In 1807, he's once again sent on a semisecret mission by spymaster Lord Dungarth (A Baltic Mission), is tempted by a foreign beauty (A Brig of War) and is captured by his enemies (1805). This time, though, the incidents occur in the Pacific Northwest, where Drinkwater is sent to foil Russian attempts at south-of-Alaska settlement and to prevent a Russo-Spanish alliance in northern California. Our hero vies with England's enemies, mainly on the brig Patrician, where he is also preoccupied with a disaffected crew always on the brink of mutiny. Using some real-life Russians and Californios, Woodman spins a plausible what-if tale featuring, as usual, details of seamanship, the requisite gory battle scenes and glimpses of world politics.
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.
Rich in detail, historically accurate, and displaying a masterly knowledge of the technical aspects of ships under sail, Woodman's novel is comparable to sea fiction by masters such as C.S. Forester and Alexander Kent in its evocation of the past age of wooden ships and iron men. Highly recommended for public libraries.
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.