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Britannia's Spartan: The Dawlish Chronicles: June 1859 and April - August 1882 Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
This was a period of vast technological and social change. At the start of Nicholas Dawlish's fictional life, naval battles were still fought between wooden sailing ships armed with muzzle-loading cannon, of a basic design unchanged since Tudor times. By the time of Britannia's Spartan - the 1880s - he is commanding a steel-hulled ship driven by steam power, with breech-loading guns mounted in sponsons, carrying and being vulnerable to torpedoes. Rudimentary submarines were under development. The only major game-changer in naval warfare which did not appear in the nineteenth century was the aircraft, and these would also make their appearance before Dawlish's death in 1918 (still many books away, I am happy to say).
So, somebody in Dawlish's position had to master an ever-changing series of demands, if he was to continue to progress in his career. Men like Dawlish had been inspired by the careers of Nelson, Pellew, and the like, but the practical business of running a ship had changed radically since their day.
At this time England was, at least nominally, at peace. Ship captains were expected to have the ability to represent both their nation and their monarch as surrogate diplomats, not simply as warriors. However, the reality of service in foreign waters, accompanied by a degree of isolation from superior officers which is hard for us to contemplate, meant that every encounter could potentially be hostile.Read more ›
Dawlish carries the burden of command which "was the burden he had ached and striven for since boyhood and the reality was more terrible than he ever could have imagined in those long years." Through his eyes, we see appalling brutality, carnage and destruction, as well as heroism and honour.
As before, Vanner's book is not for the faint of heart. He does not shrink from the blood-and-guts of war, but in portraying Dawlish as an able risk-taker, he deftly winds together the intellectual appeal of tactics, the terror of conflict and the pity Dawlish feels for the victims of war as he orders his ship and men into situations in which it is certain that there will be casualties.
More than just a good read, this historic novel carries a sense of foreboding. Vanner’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the technology of warfare at sea in the decades immediately prior to World War I, along with his portrayal of the enmity among the Asian powers, together offer us a glimpse into that most populous area of the world at a time when it was largely misunderstood or ignored by Europe and America until it was almost too late.
The story sees a simple mission turn into a diplomatic nightmare and puts Dawlish at risk of starting a war with a potentially very dangerous new power. As always the supporting characters are well drawn and help to render the book far more of a three dimensional tale than many of its erstwhile competitors.
Thank you and more of the same please.
PS. Surely Dawlish must be present at the great Sea battle between the fleets of Imperial Tzarist Russia and Japan in the same geographical area only a few years later.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the few books I can honestly say that from the first page and to the end I was completely riveted and could not put it downPublished 3 months ago by p d brewin
Brilliant; just finished the first four books.
A worthy successor to Hornblower, both in style and literally in setting. Read more
As ever, Britannia's Spartan was a fast moving and exciting read, backed by sound technical detail of the age. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mr. K. Straw
Another immensely enjoyable book in the series. The author's grasp of naval procedures of the era is exemplary. I am looking forward to the next book.Published 15 months ago by Mr. David Johnson
I’ve read all 4 of the Britannia novels and they are all well written. By choosing to set them in a period that is less well known re British naval history but during one of... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Ian K. Todd