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on 20 October 2017
Good story although it seems Nathaniel is taking a long time getting anywhere. Maybe I should not compare him to Damage so much.
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on 12 October 2007
I am a massive fan of the genre and think that Forester's Hornblower is pretty much the pinnacle, but Woodman's Drinkwater is, to my mind, the best of his challengers.

After 15 or 20 novels of O'Brien or Pope i found my interest beginning to wane, but Drinkwater kept me hooked all the way (about 12 or something books, if i recall). The nautical terminology is there, of course, and the author is very good at creating the atmosphere of the period and of the wooden sailing ships of Nelson's time. Something is always happening to keep the reader interested and, while it is true as has already been noted, that the same english villain and french villain remain pretty much throughout the series, i did not have too much of a problem with this. Authors should be given a little leeway when it comes to "coincidences", as long as they are not too far fetched.

In summary, i would recomment giving Drinkwater a chance if you have exhausted the Hornblower series and are looking for something else to dull your withdrawal symptoms.
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on 26 July 2001
Woodman is treading familiar ground - Patrick O'Brian, Alexander Kent, C.S.Forester, Showell Styles to name but a few. Nevertheless his are worthy additions to the genre. His style lacks the everyday detail and his characters lack the depth of Patrick O'Brian's, but the narratives are gripping, the nautical detail appears accurate (I am no expert!) and if you prefer to cut to the chase you will find these books very much to your taste.
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 2009
I've just finished the fifth Nathaniel Drinkwater omnibus and my remarks apply to the whole fourteen novels so my approbation of the subsequent four omnibuses (should that perhaps be omnibi?) can be taken as read.
I think these stories are splendid, swahbuckled to the Nth degree, filled with finely drawn characters, exciting incident and nautical know how.

To try and give you a little focus as to how my tastes may or may not parallel your own I will not declaim on the merits or otherwise of the author but will name some authors whose work I have also enjoyed. For sea stories I have enjoyed all of Julian Stockwin's Kydd novels, lapped up all of James Nelson's offerings, but found, as yet,(and this might just be me) O'Brien and Forester to be a bit stodgy. I am not really a big sea story fan, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, Wilbur Smith, Conn Iggulden, Harlan coben (non Myron B.) being more my cup of tea. However, if, in any of the above, you have seen mention of authors you yourself like i would urge you to give Mr. Woodman a try
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2002
Brilliant stuff! As first novels, these are almost as subtle and enigmatic as P.O'B's later works, but just as gripping as his early stuff; similarly based on historical fact, they are definitely a cut above the rest. Excellent descriptions of below-decks and battle actions take you right inside the ship; an acquaintance with nautical terminology helps, but is not vital, to understand the gist of the action or the day-to-day management of the ship - e.g. the handling of sails is particularly well-described, far better than any other book I've read. and succinct descriptions of wind, weather and tide preface each event; the stage is already set - action soon follows.
None of the incidents or fortunate strokes of luck seem contrived, rather they develop naturally as Nat matures from innocence into almost cynical youth.
In 'The Eye of the Fleet' (first book in this volume), the hard life below decks is brought horrifically home in thefirst few pages - the impotence of the younger gentlemen in the face of overbearing bullying is brought sharply into focus, as is the rough justice of the foremast jacks - stark reality is served up in healthy measure here, with a side salad of intrigue and a dressing of young love.
Ten years on, 'A King's Cutter' sees Nat married - the early promise of promotion has not materialised and he is stuck in a boring navigational job on Admiralty Yachts. Suddenly, an influential old comrade offers him a commission in a clandestine operation on a speedy cutter, where his skills will be put to the test helping the Aristos to escape the Terror of the Revolution. In an about-face, Britain is assisting her traditional enemy, in an attempt to avert the greater threat of anarchy, but has to cope with the potentially worse threat of the infamous Nore Mutiny ...
Divulging any more would be a spoiler - suffice to say that espionage and political intrigue make this a very different book from the first episode. Nat is older, wiser and more experienced, but there is still the same pace, tension and honest-to-goodness readbility. In particular, the descriptions are superb, conveying in a few apt words all the reader requires to envisage the scenes accurately - one knows the exact position of ships and exactly where the action is, one is THERE, in the thick of it - which adds immeasurably to one's enjoyment.
Book 3 'A Brig of War' sees Nat dashing round to the Red Sea to subvert Napoleon's suspected attack on India. A tense sea-chase ensues, brilliantly tense, there are some on-board intrigues which keep one guessing, an old enemy returns to haunt Nat, plus the minutiae of running a ship make this immensely enjoyable reading.
We see more details of Nat's long-time colleagues, in particular the misanthrope Appleby, whose didactic prolix is an undercurrent of humour which endears him to both Nat and his ailing Captain.
I devoured this omnibus in a weekend - good job I'd already bought the follow-on, because this is addictive reading.
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on 13 February 2002
For those disconsolate souls who have read all of O'Brian's masterful works, travelled with the moody but adventurous Hornblower, and have sought a new master to chart a course through the seas of early 19th century British naval fiction, I can warmly recommend Woodman. Woodman tells a good tale, only occasionally lapsing to the mediocre in his plotting, but none can surpass his ability to sketch the feel of living in the navy of this time. A warning: these are not for the neophyte. Woodman assumes a solid background in nautical terminology (or a very good dictionary). Nevertheless, they are works that merit high recognition among the lovers of naval fiction.
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on 5 December 2013
Cracking good tales full of pace that carry you though the rich history of the period whilst exploring the fortunes of a young man trying to rise through the ranks of the British Navy in the age of sail. Richard Woodman is not afraid to expose his readers to the less savoury aspects of navy life that many other authors tend to avoid. He has researched all aspects of his subject well and his erudition is plainly evident. Although his main character, Nathaniel Drinkwater, has strong qualities he has allowed him to experience fears, emotions and disappointments as well as feel the highs and lows that any normal person would in his particular circumstances. The stories carry you along and certainly makes you want to turn each page. If there is any criticism, it is that Woodman's vocabulary is occasionally a little rarefied and this may affect the reading flow for some. That aside, this is a trio of superb tales and a must for anybody imbued in the genre.
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on 9 February 2014
Nathaniel Drinkwaters career is not one step to the other to become admiral, like other (though beautiful novels) authors plan their story plot. He has a lot of drawbacks and especially these drawbacks make him a most likeable leading character!
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on 3 March 2013
A good and accurate depiction of life at sea under sail as well as an imaginative series of plots.Not sure about a "secret Service" in those days.
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on 10 March 2016
Nice to renew acquaintance with an old favourite. As heroic as Hornblower, Bolitho and the rest.
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