1877 and the Russo-Turkish War is reaching its climax.
A Russian victory will pose a threat to Britain’s strategic interests. To protect them an ambitious British naval officer, Nicholas Dawlish, is assigned to the Ottoman Navy to ravage Russian supply-lines in the Black Sea. In the depths of a savage winter, as Turkish forces face defeat on all fronts, Dawlish confronts enemy ironclads, Cossack lances and merciless Kurdish irregulars, and finds himself a pawn in the rivalry of the Sultan’s half-brothers for control of the collapsing empire. And in the midst of this chaos, unwillingly and unexpectedly, Dawlish finds himself drawn to a woman whom he believes he should not love.
Neither for his own sake, nor for hers…
Britannia’s Wolf introduces a naval hero who is more familiar with steam, breech-loaders and torpedoes than with sails, carronades and broadsides. Dawlish joined as a boy a Royal Navy still commanded by veterans of Trafalgar but he will help forge the Dreadnought navy of Jutland and the Great War.
Targeted Age Group:: 15 to 100
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Dawlish has been with me for a long time, whether I’ve been writing about him or not, and I’ve been building up an intimate knowledge of his life and setting it out on a time-line. We know when he was born, and when he died, and increasingly more about the years in between. Britannia’s Wolf finds him at an age, 32, when the years of mastering the mechanics of his profession are behind him. He’s now encountering the challenges of command at a level that can have a major impact on national destinies and in the process he has to cope with a lot of moral ambiguity. We know that he’s ambitious, and that he’s been ready to make sacrifices that others of his age are unwilling to make in pursuit of advancement, but now he cannot escape recognition of the price that must be paid by others as well as himself. He is ‘earnest’ – a quality the Victorians prized, and he is a Victorian, with a number of hang-ups, but also some freedoms, that we don’t have today – and he is not a man who will shirk responsibility, whether moral or material.
The second Dawlish adventure, Britannia’s Reach, tests him even further in this respect.
Who are your favorite authors?
I guess that like many enthusiasts of naval and military fiction it started with C. S. Forester. My father introduced me to Hornblower when I was 11 – I started in mid-career with “Flying Colours” – and I was hooked immediately. But he also recommended what’s perhaps Forester’s best book, “The Ship”, about one day in the life of an Arethusa-Class light cruiser in the Mediterranean in 1941. The last page is one of the most inspirational I’ve ever read and it has stayed with me through life. But Forester didn’t just write about Hornblower – novels like “The Gun” and “Death to the French” prefigure Bernard Cornwell and Sharpe, and the spectrum of his other fiction ranges from one of Columbus’s voyages to the Second World War. He set the gold standard for such writing. Bernard Cornwell has also provided me – and my daughters – with vast pleasure also and spurred us as a family to read up a lot on the Napoleonic period. I derived similar delight from Douglas Reeman and his alter ego Alexander Kent, not just the WW2 novels but the Bolitho cycle. And I also enjoyed the wonderfully original Otto Prohaska novels by John Biggins about the Austro-Hungarian Navy in WW1.