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Britannia's Shark: The Dawlish Chronicles: April - September 1881

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This is the third novel in the Dawlish Chronicles series. 1881 and the British Empire’s power seems unchallengeable. But now a group of revolutionaries threaten that power’s economic basis. Their weapon is the invention of a naïve genius, their sense of grievance is implacable and their leader is already proven in the crucible of war. Protected by powerful political and This is the third novel in the Dawlish Chronicles series. 1881 and the British Empire’s power seems unchallengeable. But now a group of revolutionaries threaten that power’s economic basis. Their weapon is the invention of a naïve genius, their sense of grievance is implacable and their leader is already proven in the crucible of war. Protected by powerful political and business interests, conventional British military and naval power cannot touch them. A daring act of piracy drags the ambitious British naval officer, Nicholas Dawlish, into this deadly maelstrom. Drawn in too is his wife Florence, for whom a glimpse of a half-forgotten face evokes memories of earlier tragedy. For both a nightmare lies ahead, made worse by a weakness Dawlish never suspected he had. Amid the wealth and squalor of America’s Gilded Age, and on a fever-ridden island ruled by savage tyranny, and manipulated ruthlessly from London by the shadowy Admiral Topcliffe, Nicholas and Florence Dawlish must make very strange alliances if they are to survive – and prevail. Britannia’s Shark continues Nicholas Dawlish’s story. Daring and initiative have already bought him rapid advancement in the Royal Navy and he hungers for more. But can the price be too high, not just for himself but for the woman he loves? As the third novel of the series Britannia's Shark follows on the adventures of Nicholas Dawlish in Turkey in 1877/78 (Britannia's Wolf) and in Paraguay in 1880 (Britannia's Reach). The British Empire is reaching its apogee in this late Victorian period. The Age of Sail is dying slowly and Dawlish is building his career in the new era of steam, ironclads, heavy guns and torpedoes that is replacing it. This is against a background of the growth of the British and German Empires, the blundering progress of Russia, the decline of Austro-Hungary, French colonial adventures in Africa, Madagascar and Indo-China, the emergence of Japan as a major industrial, military and naval power, and the United States developing, almost unnoticed, into an industrial and economic titan. There is little open confrontation between these powers at this time, but their rivalries are often played out by proxies, just as the Communist and Western blocks did during the Cold War. And that’s the world in which Dawlish must make his career.


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This is the third novel in the Dawlish Chronicles series. 1881 and the British Empire’s power seems unchallengeable. But now a group of revolutionaries threaten that power’s economic basis. Their weapon is the invention of a naïve genius, their sense of grievance is implacable and their leader is already proven in the crucible of war. Protected by powerful political and This is the third novel in the Dawlish Chronicles series. 1881 and the British Empire’s power seems unchallengeable. But now a group of revolutionaries threaten that power’s economic basis. Their weapon is the invention of a naïve genius, their sense of grievance is implacable and their leader is already proven in the crucible of war. Protected by powerful political and business interests, conventional British military and naval power cannot touch them. A daring act of piracy drags the ambitious British naval officer, Nicholas Dawlish, into this deadly maelstrom. Drawn in too is his wife Florence, for whom a glimpse of a half-forgotten face evokes memories of earlier tragedy. For both a nightmare lies ahead, made worse by a weakness Dawlish never suspected he had. Amid the wealth and squalor of America’s Gilded Age, and on a fever-ridden island ruled by savage tyranny, and manipulated ruthlessly from London by the shadowy Admiral Topcliffe, Nicholas and Florence Dawlish must make very strange alliances if they are to survive – and prevail. Britannia’s Shark continues Nicholas Dawlish’s story. Daring and initiative have already bought him rapid advancement in the Royal Navy and he hungers for more. But can the price be too high, not just for himself but for the woman he loves? As the third novel of the series Britannia's Shark follows on the adventures of Nicholas Dawlish in Turkey in 1877/78 (Britannia's Wolf) and in Paraguay in 1880 (Britannia's Reach). The British Empire is reaching its apogee in this late Victorian period. The Age of Sail is dying slowly and Dawlish is building his career in the new era of steam, ironclads, heavy guns and torpedoes that is replacing it. This is against a background of the growth of the British and German Empires, the blundering progress of Russia, the decline of Austro-Hungary, French colonial adventures in Africa, Madagascar and Indo-China, the emergence of Japan as a major industrial, military and naval power, and the United States developing, almost unnoticed, into an industrial and economic titan. There is little open confrontation between these powers at this time, but their rivalries are often played out by proxies, just as the Communist and Western blocks did during the Cold War. And that’s the world in which Dawlish must make his career.

30 review for Britannia's Shark: The Dawlish Chronicles: April - September 1881

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clay Davis

    A very good story, the best part was about the Holland submarine. Could have made mention of the U.S.S. Alligator built by Brutus de Villeroi. The front book cover could be much more interesting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard Abbott

    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 wit 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. For another, Dawlish’s wife Florence reappears in a crucial role throughout this book, whereas she was relegated to a very minor scene in Britannia’s Reach. Florence is a fine character, and a splendid companion for Nicholas, so it was very pleasing to see her courageously facing danger alongside him. The political backdrop is also fascinating, as Dawlish is forced to deal with several different factions, all competing for influence and technological advantage. British, Irish, American and Caribbean interests intersect in the story, providing a shifting ground of ambitions and frailties on both national and personal scales. Often in the story – as so often must happen in real service life – respect and friendship cut across the lines drawn by governments. On a technical level, the book has not been quite so thoroughly edited and proofread as previous volumes, but the typographic slips are still few and far between. In short, a fine addition to the life story of Nicholas Dawlish, and the extra human and political dimensions explored here push this one up to 5* for me. I shall be looking forward to the next in the series as and when it appears.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Steven Toby

    Maybe the best of the Dawlish Stories The author clearly knows how to spin a good tale while remaining historically accurate. I have read several of his other books and my main complaint was merely that so much of the action happened on land, while the Victorian period saw huge changes at sea that have been quite neglected by the writers of novels (and even sometimes by historians). In this book Mr. Vanner features Mr. Holland and the design of a practical submarine. I recall the “Fenian Ram” nam Maybe the best of the Dawlish Stories The author clearly knows how to spin a good tale while remaining historically accurate. I have read several of his other books and my main complaint was merely that so much of the action happened on land, while the Victorian period saw huge changes at sea that have been quite neglected by the writers of novels (and even sometimes by historians). In this book Mr. Vanner features Mr. Holland and the design of a practical submarine. I recall the “Fenian Ram” name from historical sources but wasn’t aware that it had operated successfully even in a limited way. In this book commander Dawlish tries to seize the submarine for the Queen and her representative intelligence sponsor. The Admiralty wants the whole concept suppressed to keep the seas safe for British ships. The dynamite gun is historically attested and the USN certainly had a cruiser built to carry it about this period (1880’s), but I’m not remembering any suggestion it could be fired from a submarine, compared to the torpedo that had already been introduced. However, that’s the armament that equipped Fenian Ram. And in the story Dawlish manages to get control of it in scary sequences that ring profoundly true, only to scuttle it to cover his escape from Cuba after its owners, an Irish revolutionary group, steals it back. The technical details are totally believable and truly terrifying. Periscopes hadn’t been invented yet and compasses work poorly inside a steel hull; I’m not exactly sure when gyrocompasses were introduced. So operating the craft was like scuba diving with your eyes closed — you need to surface to see where you are. And grounding is really bad! Plus an air breathing engine was used, even submerged, and the sub was not equipped with artificial lighting at all. Not sure if that’s correct. Surely mr. Edison invented the light bulb around 1880 and the battery to power it was used to run telegraphs during the Civil War. So I’m not positive all the detail is strictly correct but the action is so believable and gripping that it’s totally Mr. Vanner’s best work. Guess I need to figure out if I’ve read them all and if not I’ll have to get another one. Recommended for anyone interested in Victorian naval affairs.

  4. 4 out of 5

    MRS L M GIBBS

    Gripping A great read that keeps you on the edge of your seat. A book that you cannot put down until you have read 5he final sentence. This was my first Nicholas Dawlish book and now I cannot wait to read more!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Good one Fascinating history on the submarine and how terrifying it must have been to be in it. Good story w Florence taking a bigger role. A bit long winded but a fine read

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Nealis

    Just wondering! I have really enjoyed these first three books. Just wondering though, when is Topcliffe going to reward Dawlish with his promotion?

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dave Hammett

    Details I've enjoyed all of this series! His attention to detail, historically correct detail has been great! I owned a Turkish Peabody Martini;one that was surplussed to Japan!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Keith

    Compiling This series is compiling non stop action. It makes you think how power is controlled. I will be sad what it's over

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chaplain Stanley Chapin

    Another great one I have enjoyed his previous work's, this one did not have much Nava action, which I prefer. An interesting story, nevertheless.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pastor Parker

    A great take Love the fact we have a naval officer hero that is not in the Napoleonic era, but still has the same honor and guts. Great job

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paul H Elliot

    Adventure and Daring Nicolas Dawlish and his beloved Florence take on the Irish and the Spanish. Discovering the threat of new technology to naval warfare.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Simon Jones

    Having been a fan of the author's excellent naval history blog for the past couple of years, when I finally got around to reading the novels my expectations were very high and I was not disappointed. Having demolished the first two Dawlish books and been mightily entertained by the relentless action, superb level of technical detail and good old fashioned swashbuckling, I approached the third instalment in expectation of another helping of the same. Britannia's Sword delivered on all counts. Thi Having been a fan of the author's excellent naval history blog for the past couple of years, when I finally got around to reading the novels my expectations were very high and I was not disappointed. Having demolished the first two Dawlish books and been mightily entertained by the relentless action, superb level of technical detail and good old fashioned swashbuckling, I approached the third instalment in expectation of another helping of the same. Britannia's Sword delivered on all counts. This time we find Dawlish tasked with the theft of an early experimental submarine. The scenes aboard the nightmarish craft are delivered with Mr Vanner's usual meticulous attention to detail and understanding of the technology of the period and are as vivid as they are claustrophobic. As usual we are taken to unusual times and places not frequented by mainstream historical fiction, which for me is another winning hallmark of this series. This time the climax of the book takes place against the back drop of one of Cuba's lesser known periods of civil strife and the action is tense, visceral and thrilling. As always the star of the show is Dawlish himself, a very British hero in the best way. Resourceful man of action though he is, Dawlish is far more interesting than the square jawed action hero we often meet in lesser works. Once more our hero does not have things all his own way, he knows failure and wrestles with doubt and fear before finally emerging with his honour somehow intact. I look forward greatly to the next instalment.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dave Tate

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Burr

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Dyer

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charles

  17. 4 out of 5

    charles eatman

  18. 4 out of 5

    Roger Hudson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anthony J. Faint

  20. 4 out of 5

    Drew

  21. 4 out of 5

    ROGER WILSON

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jim Sharp

  23. 5 out of 5

    wjcurley

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Bertrand

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wes

  26. 5 out of 5

    Megan Chen Xin Ru

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Paul Kennedy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Barrett

  29. 4 out of 5

    dennis schmieder

  30. 4 out of 5

    peter hall

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