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Britannia's Shark: The Dawlish Chronicles: April - September 1881 by [Vanner, Antoine]
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Britannia's Shark: The Dawlish Chronicles: April - September 1881 Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
Book 3 of 5 in The Dawlish Chronicles (5 Book Series)

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Length: 354 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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About the Author

Antoine Vanner’s own adventurous life, his knowledge of human nature, his passion for nineteenth-century history and his understanding of what was the cutting-edge technology of that time, make him the ideal chronicler of the life of Nicholas Dawlish RN. "I find the entire Victorian era fascinatng," says Vanner, "because for my generation it’s ‘the day before yesterday’ so to speak. It’s history that you can almost touch. Our grandparents grew up in that period – my grandfather was born in the year of Britannia’s Wolf – and you heard a lot from them about that time. My grandmother could recall seeing Queen Victoria, and my grandmother-in-law saw Paul Kruger, who as a boy had been on the Great Trek in 1835. So much in that period was similar to what we still have and you feel you could live easily in it, and then you hit some aspects – especially those associated with social conventions and attitudes – that make it seem wholly alien. It was a time of change on every front – intellectual, scientific, medical, social, political and technological – and how people seem to have accommodated so well to the changes was quite remarkable." Vanner adds "There’s also a horrible fascination also that a period which saw so many improvements which ensured better lives for so many people, and which was imbued with such optimism, had a lack of awareness of the Armageddon of 1914 which was just around the corner. So many lives were to be cut short, so much hope and private happiness to be destroyed, so much turmoil and suffering. Yet nobody foresaw it." And that too is part of Dawlish's story. Find out more on www.dawlishchronicles.com Follow Antoine vanner's weekly blog on: dawlishchronicles.blogspot.co.uk

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2420 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Old Salt Press; 1 edition (5 Dec. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #126,383 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Another first class story in a hopefully continuing series.
As in the first two books our hero continues his undercover duties, and again the writing is a superb mixture of daring do and totally the opposite,(Amazon would not allow the first phrase I used). It is almost guaranteed that if Dawlish has to make a vital shot then something will spoil his aim, likewise when flight or fight is called for he will be the one to loose his footing at the critical moment, actually this story would probably have been shorter with a far more satisfactory outcome if Dawlish had stayed in England, are we sure he is the best the Admiralty have?
But that is the delight of this series, Dawlish is seriously fallible, Mr Vanner very successfully avoids the pitfall of many naval heroes who stroll through their novels avoiding certain death like some Hollywood movie Star.
Another point many other writers of serialised tales could learn from is this authors ability to make brief referrals to previous books without going into long, un-necessary reprinted detail.

Dawlish is simply human like many of the other well written and rounded characters, and those simple facts aligned with a very full and knowledgeable grasp of the machinery and politics of the age in which Dawlish lives makes for a totally absorbing entertaining read.
Well done Mr Vanner, now full steam ahead with book 4.
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This is the third of Antoine Vanner's Nicholas Dawlish novels but would work equally well as a stand alone novel, and readers who haven't read the first two will not suffer in any way. The plot follows Commander Nicholas Dawlish as he his sent on a secret mission by the shadowy head of Britain's naval intelligence to prevent a group of Irish Nationalists based in the US from developing the world's first effective submarine as a terrorist weapon against British shipping. The action takes Dawlish from the Agean to New York and the colonial Cuba. If the central premise sounds far fetched it is worth Googling John Holland who was to invent the first diesel electric submarine by the turn of the century. His early work was funded by Fenians in the US, and while Vanner's story is fictional it is built upon detailed historical research. Having said this, the author never let's the historical detail get in the way of character, plot or pace and you are left with a deeply satisfying thriller in the tradition of Reeman or Forrester.
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Britannia’s Shark is the third published naval fiction book by Antoine, following the exploits of the 19th century Royal Navy captain Nicholas Dawlish. The books can each be read separately and there is adequate contextual material to fill in any gaps the reader might have.

Dawlish’s career is characterised by a series of secretive operations to further British interests, well outside the publicly visible face of the Navy. He is one of the servicemen of that age who were willing to experiment with a wide range of emerging technologies, which together were rapidly transforming sea travel and sea warfare from the sailing ships of Nelson’s time to the ironclads of the First World War. Indeed, other than ship-based aircraft, all of the ingredients of modern naval warfare were well formed during Dawlish’s lifetime.

The main emerging technology of this story is the submarine. Antoine vividly captures the claustrophobic horror induced in a man who has been used to open horizons and fresh air, when faced with the constricting darkness, clutter, and polluted atmosphere encountered in this very early prototype. Only total commitment to his calling, and complete acceptance of the necessity of his actions, could overcome Dawlish’s visceral rejection of his situation. The mixed reception of the submarine as a weapon is clear – recognition of its military value alongside repugnance at connotations of cowardice and deceit.

I enjoyed this story considerably more than its predecessor. For one thing there was a much richer, and (for me at least) a much more interesting blend of politics and cultural dynamics alongside the ship and land based fighting.
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In a way the best yet in this developing series.

The action takes us from the elegance of the Austro-Hungarian Adriatic to the squalor of revolutionary Cuba, via London and the United States. The scenes in a post-Civil War New York and Long Island, with shadowy Fenians and the (real-life) inventor of the first truly viable submarine, were particularly good.

But if I'm honest, the setting and storyline of the first in the series, Britannia's Wolf, and the Dawlish (and Florence) that we got to know in that book, were more keenly drawn; and the second, Britannia's Reach, was better paced. The action in No. 3 was perhaps just a little too relentless, a little too prolonged, to maintain what both those earlier books achieved: the sense that this was a real, flawed, flesh-and-blood character involved in activities that, while extraordinary by our own tame standards, might actually have befallen an ambitious career officer.

The developing theme of a sort of special agent (reminiscent of McCutchan's Halfhyde) is less convincing and appealing to me than that of a man whose career has been blighted through the social snobbery caused by marrying a servant having to put himself in the way of danger in order to secure the advancement that his qualities otherwise deserve.

If Mr Vanner can resist the temptation to over-dramatise the next instalments, and relies instead on the inherent drama and romance of the sea, the ships and the period itself that provide his backdrop, and the strong characterisation he has created for Nicholas and Florence Dawlish, I have no doubt that they will become great and lasting favourites.
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