It is 1843 and Captain Nathaniel Sir Drinkwater embarks on the paddle-steamer Vestal for an inspection of lighthouses on the west coast of England. Bowed with age and honors, the old sea officer has been drawn from retirement on half-pay to fulfill his public duty. The following day, tragedy strikes, and Drinkwater is confronted with his past life: his sins and follies, his triumphs and his disasters.
Drawing on a true incident, Richard Woodman deftly concludes the career of his sea hero. Drinkwater’s complex character is revealed in its entirety. Far from being the reminiscences of an old man, the novel skillfully weaves the past with the present; the personal tensions below decks, the straining creak of a man-of-war under sail, the crack of a cannon shot, and the plaintive mews of the trailing gulls are never far away. To the end, Nathaniel Drinkwater’s life is full of incident and the unexpected, so typical of the sea officers of his day.
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."
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.
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.
Those looking for high seas action and historical intrigue are in luck . . .
Well written and exciting.
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.