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on 20 October 2017
Still reading the first story, but, so far it is getting better as it goes along. Good books although, so far, I like Alexander Kent and Dudley Pope just a little bit better. Omnibus 3 and 4 on their way to me.
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2002
Three more stories in a very inexpensive format in this series from Mr. Woodman.
'The Bomb Vessel' describes the circumstances surrounding the action at Copenhagen in 1801 (not the lesser-known debacle in 1807, described in Mr. Cornwell's 'Sharpe's Prey'). I say 'action' but there is remarkably little of it for the bulk of the book, more delaying and prevaricating, despite the presence of Lord Nelson. A personal undercurrent pre-occupies Nat, who uses his previous clandestine life as a cover - the on-board speculation is handled very nicely.
Having said there is no action is misleading; the very lack of progress to action causes unrest in the ranks (and higher command), showing how lack of purpose and conviction, or unfitness for the task can severely jeopardise an operation, causing unnecessary loss of surprise, ships and men. This is described well, without losing one's interest as the various strings of the plot are drawn together, culminating in the final bloody action..
Altogether a gripping thriller topped by a detailed factual description of a complex naval battle.
'The Corvette' sees Nat elevated to Master & Commander in charge of an escort to a group of whalers bound for Greenland. As well as the usual excellent sail evolutions, there is wonderful description of below-decks life here, as well as some gory incidental details of whaling.
Several plots run together in this story; the threat of privateers; the differing agendas of the whalers; insubordination in the officers; and a pastor with a past. All are handled by a Captain who has matured as much as his author, in a way that has neither the bluffness of Jack Aubrey, nor the asperity of Hornblower.
Whereas the 'Corvette' started slow and ended fast; '1805' starts off on page one with a panic situation in a gale off the Lizard, forcing Nat to club-haul the ship out of danger... This is so well-described you can almost feel the ship straining beneath your feet as the anchor wrenches the bows 12 points through the wind onto the other tack and safety.
The threat of now-Emperor Napoleon's invasion requires Nat's constant vigilance over the French ports, destroying any likely transports and incidentally aiding the spy network in their subversive attempts to overthrow the 'little corporal'. During this routine blockading, the intransigent midshipman Lord Walmsley pushes his status too far and ends up over a cannon wearing a check shirt, then a transfer out of Nat's hair - but who turns up in the future, like a bad penny.
Despite the blockade, the Frogs break out and, in company with the Dons, apparently head to the W.Indies, leaving Nat to wait for Nelson appearing from the Med. Nat gets a transfer to a 74, but in a turn of events he is captured by the Spaniards and flung into prison with his officers. The loathsome Santhonax appears again to quiz Nat and do more dirty deeds as the book closes.
Trafalgar forms the high point of the story, with Nat only able to view the carnage from the orlop of the French 'Bucentaure' 80, where he was transferred as prisoner with little Gillespy.
We see more of the character of Mr.Q, Mr. Frey & Lt.Rogers in this book as well as more of the strategy of the defence of Britain, as Nat becomes more accepted by those in command. A small reference in a letter from his wife, tells us that Nat has fostered poor little Billy Cue Maxted, the Mid whose legs were blown off in the action with 'Requin' off Greenland (in the previous volume 'Corvette'). This touching generosity, the tenderness he shows to little Mr. Gillespy and his encouragement of Mr.Frey reveals a different side to the cool, collected tactician we normally see.
Mr.Woodman's writing gets better with each story - more fluid and confident, yet providing another level of suspense under the surface; meanings are implicit rather than voiced; inferences made by subtle suggestion rather than bald statement, which makes this a real pleasure to read.
As good as the best in the genre. *****
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on 2 December 2017
So far I have read omnibus 1,2&3 and I have found them to be riveting reads you just can’t put them down, a brilliant author.
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on 7 September 2001
These omnibus editions are a great bargain. Admirers of historical naval fiction (and they are many) will already have read the first omnibus, if not the individual volumes. Woodman's characters are gaining depth as the series proceeds and becoming more interesting and realistic as a result, but the level of action and excitement remains the same. I look forward to the third omnibus!
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on 9 November 2007
I'd concur with another reviewer who said these omnibus editions are excellent value. Richard Woodman and his 'hero' Nat Drinkwater weave a great series of tales which both involve good characterisation, realistic plots, success and failure as well as action and intrigue.

For the whole series (both this omnibus and the preceding) are all the richer in that the characters meet both reward and disappointment. While I enjoy the uplifting ending of some novels Woodman doesn't guarantee that will happen and the series is all the richer for it.

Enjoy. These are a welcome addition to your "Napoleonic" library.
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on 3 March 2013
Historically accurate, as well as an acuate depiction of the sailing skills required for a warship under sail. A very good read
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on 2 December 2015
A great book which follows on from no's 1-2-3 and leads into 7-8-9.I am really enjoying these
omnibus editions.
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on 12 November 2014
This Omnibus will propel you faster into the next Omnibus....you simply won't be able to put the book down.
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on 17 November 2016
read & enjoyed the entire series
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on 12 December 2015
good naval yarn
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