1805, by Richard Woodman

by Peter on December 20, 2010

1805 is the sixth book in the series featuring Nathaniel Drinkwater of the British Navy written by Richard Woodman. This series of books is of high quality for the genre.

The book starts during the summer of 1804. 1805, by Richard Woodman It starts with a bang, with a panic situation in a gale off the Lizard, forcing Nat to club-haul his ship, the frigate Antigone, out of danger. 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 overall context is that Napoleon is massing his vast army for the invasion of England. His Combined Fleet of French and Spanish ships of the line is preparing to meet Admiral Nelson’s British Fleet. And the Royal Navy is stretched to the limit by tedious blockades to prevent the French from getting out of their harbors.

Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater is newly appointed commander of the frigate Antigone. The ship is on blockade duty in the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay, and along the Spanish coast. It is engaged in action several times at the coast of France.

As we all know, 1805 culminated in the gruesome Battle of Trafalgar. This battle was Britain’s greatest naval victory ever, and arguably the most decisive naval battle in history. Drinkwater has a unique perspective on the battle, and Woodman’s description of the battle as seen from the unique viewpoint of Drinkwater conveys a vision of hell. It is a very interesting and empathic viewpoint which allows readers to see both points of view, I may add.

1805 is a good, very insightful novel. 1805 appears to be very well researched and it covers details not found in run-of-the-mill history books. Woodman’s writing is improving with each book, and is more fluid and confident than in the earlier books in the series. The style is somewhat subtle and subdued, and makes use of hints rather than screams. I appreciate Woodman’s style. It is a good, solid, suspenseful and entertaining read!

Praise for Richard Woodman:

There will not be a better novel of naval warfare until Richard Woodman’s next book appears.” –Times Literary Supplement

“There is no doubt that Nathaniel Drinkwater rates up there with the best of the nautical world.” –Midwest Book Review

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