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Britannia's Reach: The Dawlish Chronicles November 1879 - April 1880 by [Vanner, Antoine]
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Britannia's Reach: The Dawlish Chronicles November 1879 - April 1880 Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
Book 2 of 5 in The Dawlish Chronicles (5 Book Series)

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Length: 356 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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About the Author

Antoine Vanner has had an adventurous and varied life that prepared him well to write novels he describes as "Duty and Daring in the Heyday of the British Empire." "I have survived military coups, a guerrilla war, storms at sea and life in mangrove swamps, tropical forest, offshore oil-platforms and the boardroom," he says. "That's a good starting point for any writer." Antoine has lived and worked long-term in eight countries, has travelled widely in all continents except Antarctica and is fluent in three languages. He has a passion for nineteenth-century political and military history and has a deep understanding of what was the cutting-edge technology of the time. His knowledge of human nature and his first-hand experience of the locales – often surprising – of the most important conflicts of the period provide the impetus for his chronicling of the life of the Royal Navy officer Nicholas Dawlish. “I’m fascinated by the Victorian period,” Antoine 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.” Find out more on Antoine's website www.dawlishchronicles.com which covers a very wide range of historical and naval topics related to the late Victorian period. You can also follow Antoine's blog on http://dawlishchronicles.blogspot.co.uk/ Antoine also welcomes you to follow him on Twitter at @AntoineVanner

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1869 KB
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00I9I8DWC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #140,222 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You have to hand it to Antoine Vanner – he knows his stuff!

In this second Dawlish Chronicle, he takes us to Paraguay, South America, to accompany Commander Nicholas Dawlish RN on a dangerous mission for his patron and government. And it’s dangerous in many ways apart from the fighting action: a morally questionable goal, shifting alliances amongst the participants, a treacherous river and clever, experienced and honourable enemy.

Commander Dawlish is a skilled and self-disciplined naval officer driven by both honour and a deep desire for advancement. He has his faults, sensitivities and doubts which make him a rounded protagonist. He is a man of his age and sometimes seems old fashioned and patronising to 21st century readers, but spot-on for a Victorian military man.

The great strength of this book is the detail and depiction of the ships, sailing conditions, weaponry, tactics, military engineering and naval service life. I loved the balloon! If a reader wants the Tom Clancy level techno detail of the period, it’s here, and fascinating even for the non-technical reader.

For me, the detail was occasionally too much. I would have enjoyed more developed interaction between and background about the characters, particularly the opponents. And unlike the excellent Britannia’s Wolf, there was little presence of female characters; the one female enemy tended to verge on the stereotype. Perhaps more interplay with the character of the very interesting Mrs Dawlish at the beginning, thinking more about past conversations with her or references to her part in Britannia’s Wolf could have leavened the very male-centred action.

However, that action was exciting; on land and sea, naval, military, technological, political and commercial.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Dawlish Chronicles cover a period less "romantic" but just as interesting as the great age of sail. Dawlish is an interesting hero. Driven by ambition to work with people who's aims and methods he despises, but for whom he must achieve success, or sacrifice his own desire for promotion in the navy he loves. A flawed hero, but one who excites loyalty in his crews and empathy in the reader. I keenly await the next instalment.
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Format: Paperback
In this second book of the Dawlish Chronicles we follow British Commander Nicholas Dawlish to South America where he leads a flotilla of armed paddle steamers up river in an effort to reclaim an economic Paraguayan empire managed by a consortium of foreign interests. The year is 1880, during a rebel uprising. The author's gripping prologue foreshadows one of the main characters and sets the sordid scene.

As I read I couldn't help but see parallels with Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Vanner draws us into this obscure, internecine conflict, a little-remembered war fought deep in the heart of the South American continent during the rise of the British Empire. The author's knowledge of the period and the events is apparent, yet the details never get in the way of a good, if violent, story. The ethics of the engagement are questionable and the author does nothing to glamorize the conflict; this is no recount of the Glorious First of June, this is no pastiche of the battle of Trafalgar. Instead, Britannia's Reach is a dark, brutal, complex story, told in a compelling style.

Instead of trying to validate Dawlish's actions as a hero's deeds, Vanner shows us his motives and his actions. Nicholas Dawlish - an honorable man, a likeable man - is forced to make a terrible choice. It is this dilemma that elevates the story above most historical action-adventure books.

Oh, the horror! The horror!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Antoine Vanner’s Britannia’s Reach takes his hero to South America. For those of us who met Dawlish in Britannia’s Wolf, when the Royal Navy loaned him to the Ottoman Navy, it is no surprise to find out that again, if he fails, His Britannic Majesty’s Navy will disavow his existence. This time, Dawlish is in the service of an unpleasant English trading consortium which together with the odious government of Paraguay is suppressing a motley group of Jesuit-inspired peasants led by French revolutionaries who fled France when it became clear that their extreme socialism was no longer welcome.

Dawlish is in charge of a river fleet including a monitor, a gunboat and paddle-steamers filled with conscript soldiers, towing barges with horses and supplies. His job is to take them all up the Rio Paraguay against a cunning and ruthless foe who he increasingly respects more than those for and with whom he is working. Dawlish signed on, seeking the bubble reputation (and promotion) in the canon’s mouth, so he sticks with his mission. He is driven by duty, even when it conflicts with his sympathies. His fellow-officers who lead the conscript army he must ferry up the river are an unsympathetic lot who oppose, undermine and diminish his work. His comrades in arms who share his Royal Navy training are a few stalwart Englishmen who are as reliable as the army officers and consortium representatives are not.

Dawlish’ ace is a one-of-a-kind gunship, aptly named Toad, which is surplus to the Royal Navy’s requirements. This curious craft has one huge muzzle-loading gun that rears up out of the foredeck on hydraulics, is aimed by pointing the ship, and which has absolutely devastating effect into which Vanner takes us with merciless detail.
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