Review: Britannia’s Wolf by Antoine Vanner – Historic Naval Fiction

Britannia’s Wolf by Antoine Vanner is set during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. Perhaps unusually for the first book in a new series about the Royal Navy, The Dawlish Chronicles, the entire book is spent with the principal character seconded to a foreign power, Turkey, but this worked well.

Dawlish has to retake his future command from a rebellious Turk, but he is soon in command of an ironclad and, despite the language and cultural difficulties, getting the ship ready for sea and bringing some esprit de corps to it’s crew. Throughout the book there are some well written action scenes both at sea and ashore as Dawlish and his men seek to stem the relentless Russian advances despite some of the political intriguing that was expected in the levant at the time. The rivalries that started this war are ones that still echo through to modern times and as I have not studied this period before it was a pleasure to read about the origins of these conflicts. However, be warned that at the time little concern was showed for civilians and the narrative graphically brings to life some of the atrocities that marked this conflict.

Read More Review: Britannia’s Wolf by Antoine Vanner – Historic Naval Fiction.

Britannia’s Wolf (PB) – Historic Naval Fiction

The first book in a new series, The Dawlish Chronicles, by Antoine Vanner starting in 1877 as the adoption of steam ironclads starts to take hold, Britannia’s Wolf, is now available in paperback. “I’m fascinated by the Victorian period,” Vanner says, “for not only was it one of colonial expansion and of Great Power rivalry that often came to the brink of war, but it was also one of unprecedented social, political, technological and scientific change. Britain’s power may have been at an apogee but it was under constant threat and would demand constant adaptation from those who aspired to shape events. Many born in the 1840s would not only play significant roles in the later decades of the century but be key players in the maelstrom that would engulf the world in 1914. The Dawlish Chronicles are set in that world of change, uncertainty and risk and they involve projection of naval power to meet complex social, political and diplomatic challenges.”

1877 and the Russo-Turkish War is reaching its climax. A Russian victory will pose a threat for Britain’s strategic interests. To protect them an ambitious British naval officer, Nicholas Dawlish, is assigned to the Ottoman Navy to ravage Russian supply-lines in the Black Sea. In the depths of a savage winter, as Turkish forces face defeat on all fronts, Dawlish confronts enemy ironclads, Cossack lances and merciless Kurdish irregulars and finds himself a pawn in the rivalry of the Sultan’s half-brothers for control of the collapsing empire.

Read More Britannia’s Wolf (PB) – Historic Naval Fiction.

The Lion of Midnight (PB) – Historic Naval Fiction

The latest book in J. D. Davies’s Journals of Matthew Quinton, The Lion of Midnight, is now available for pre-order in paperback. It will be released worldwide on 23 April 2013.

Winter, 1666. A second war has broken out between the English and the Dutch…

Captain Matthew Quinton’s fifth mission for King and country is to the Swedish court at Gothenburg. Sweden is at the height of its military power and Quinton is charged with securing much-needed support in England’s new war against her old enemy, the Dutch republic.

Accompanying him is the mysterious Lord Conisborough, who – unknown to his captain – is sworn to another secret mission: to track down and kill the notorious regicide John Bale, alone among peers of the realm to sign the death warrant of Charles I.

Gothenburg proves to be a hotbed of dangerously conflicting loyalties, and Quinton and crew find themselves needing help from the most unexpected quarters.

via The Lion of Midnight (PB) – Historic Naval Fiction.

Pilot Cutters Under Sail (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction

Tom Cunliffe has a new book Pilot Cutters Under Sail: Pilots and Pilotage in Britain and Northern Europe which is now available in the UK in hardcover. It will be released in the US on an unspecified day in April 2013.

The pilot cutters that operated around the coasts of northern Europe until the First World War were amongst the most seaworthy and beautiful craft of their size ever built, while the small number that have survived have inspired yacht designers, sailors and traditional craft enthusiasts over the last hundred years. Even in their day they possessed a charisma unlike any other working craft; their speed and close-windedness, their strength and seaworthiness, fused together into a hull and rig of particular elegance, all to guide the mariner through the rough and tortuous waters of the European seaboard, bought them an enviable reputation.

This new book is both a tribute to and a minutely researched history of these remarkable vessels. The author, perhaps the most experienced sailor of the type, describes the ships themselves, their masters and crews, and the skills they needed for the competitive and dangerous work of pilotage. He explains the differences between the craft of disparate coasts – of the Scilly Isles and the Bristol Channel, of northern France, and the wild coastline of Norway – and weaves into the history of their development the stories of the men who sailed them.

via Pilot Cutters Under Sail (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction.

Blood of Tyrants (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction

The latest book in Naomi Novik’s fantasy Temeraire series, Blood of Tyrants, is now available for pre-order in hardcover. It will be released worldwide on 13 August 2013.

Naomi Novik’s beloved Temeraire series, a brilliant combination of fantasy and history that reimagines the Napoleonic wars as fought with the aid of intelligent dragons, is a twenty-first-century classic. From the first volume, His Majesty’s Dragon, readers have been entranced by the globe-spanning adventures of the resolute Capt. William Laurence and his brave but impulsive dragon, Temeraire. Now, in Blood of Tyrants, the penultimate volume of the series, Novik is at the very height of her powers as she brings her story to its widest, most colorful canvas yet.

Shipwrecked and cast ashore in Japan with no memory of Temeraire or his own experiences as an English aviator, Laurence finds himself tangled in deadly political intrigues that threaten not only his own life but England’s already precarious position in the Far East. Age-old enmities and suspicions have turned the entire region into a powder keg ready to erupt at the slightest spark—a spark that Laurence and Temeraire may unwittingly provide, leaving Britain faced with new enemies just when they most desperately need allies instead.

via Blood of Tyrants (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction.

The Conquest of the Ocean (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction

Brian Lavery has a new book The Conquest of the Ocean which is now available for pre-order in hardcover. It will be released worldwide on 1 May 2013.

This is a captivating read spanning 5,000 years of the oceans history. “Conquest of the Ocean” tells the 5,000 year history of the remarkable individuals who sailed seas, for trade, to conquer new lands, to explore the unknown. From the early Polynesians to the first circumnavigations by the Portuguese and the British, these are awe-inspiring tales of epic sea voyages involving great feats of seamanship, navigation, endurance, and ingenuity.

You can explore the lives and maritime adventures, many with first person narratives, of land seekers and globe charters such as Christopher Columbus, Captain James Cook and Vitus Bering. Brian Lavery is a well-known British naval historian, whose prestigious credits include historical consultant on the blockbuster, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”. This narrative history is filled with paintings, logbooks, maps, sketches and diagrams that bring these events and locations to life. “Conquest of the Ocean” beautifully intertwines informative images with fascinating stories of expedition and exploration in a way that has never been done before. Brian Lavery will have you engrossed in this extraordinary historic naval read.

via The Conquest of the Ocean (HC) – Historic Naval Fiction.

Review: Hornblower and the Island by James Keffer – Historic Naval Fiction

This latest attempt to continue the Hornblower series of the late great C. S. Forester, Hornblower and the Island by James Keffer, sees the famous sailor tasked with controlling Napoleon during his exile on St. Helena.

Forester’s Hornblower is arguably one of the most famous characters in nautical literature so in seeking to take up this batten the author sets himself a difficult task. The strength of the Hornblower series for me was his character and the way Forester wrote about him thinking through his problems whilst pacing the deck and I think Keffer managed to capture this well. The book also needs to be placed in the timeline correctly with accurate references to the back story and supporting characters and again this was achieved with one surprising and enjoyable inclusion. I won’t spoil the surprise by revealing it, you will just have to buy the book and find out.

The bulk of the plot takes place on the island and is essentially about the interaction of the two main characters Hornblower and Napoleon. If what you seek in a Hornblower novel is strong nautical sequences such as survival of the hurricane in Hornblower in the West Indies or naval action such as the Lydia’s epic battle with Natividad you wont find it here with ‘at sea’ time being limited to the journey to the island. That said the plot was well written and I found it hard to put down.

Read More Review: Hornblower and the Island by James Keffer – Historic Naval Fiction.

An Interview with Helen Hollick – Historic Naval Fiction

Historic Naval Fiction is pleased to have obtained an Interview with Helen Hollick whose new novel in the The Sea Witch series, Ripples in the Sand, was recently released.

What can you tell us about Ripples in the Sand without spoiling the plot for readers?

In this fourth adventure Captain Jesamiah Acorne again finds himself in trouble, (trouble follows him like a ship’s wake) but the action has moved from the Caribbean and North America to England and Spain. He has a cargo of tobacco to sell – legally, I might add, although he also has a substantial amount of contraband aboard. Tiola, his wife, is also aboard but she is very ill. The crew assume she is suffering from acute seasickness, but in fact her energy of Craft is being drained by the malice of Tethys, goddess-spirit of the sea, who wants Jesamiah for herself. Tiola must find out why Tethys is obsessed with Jesamiah in order to put an end to the on-going feud between them – if Tiola fails, then she could lose Jesamiah to the sea.

Our charmer of a rogue, meanwhile, has his cargo to sell, meets with relatives he did not know he had, and the notorious Doone family of Exmoor. Unwittingly he becomes embroiled in the Jacobite rebellion of 1719 in which there was an attempt to put James Stuart back on the English throne through a great armada of ships. (The Spanish did not seem to learn the lesson of a previous such attempt during the reign of Elizabeth I !) He is also to meet with an old flame… and somehow get himself out of the difficulties he finds himself in…

I decided to bring Jesamiah to England for two reasons; the first to make a change of scene, the second because it is easier for me to research the details of my home country – and County, for I have recently moved from London to Devon. I now live about 15 miles from where Ripples In The Sand is set!

Tiola is more to the fore in this story, we find out a little of her past and how she came to be ‘involved’ with Jesamiah’s ancestors and his own birth.

I originally decided to use Bideford, Devon, as a setting for this book as my good friend and treasured editor lives near there – imagine my astonishment (and delight) when undertaking more detailed research I discovered that in the early eighteenth century Bideford was one of England’s leading ports for the Virginia tobacco trade – I had no idea of this when I was thinking up the original plot!

via An Interview with Helen Hollick – Historic Naval Fiction.