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.