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Monday, May 21, 2012

The Bomb Vessel by Richard Woodman

Genre: Nautical Fiction

Setting: 1801, Aboard a British Naval Vessel during the Napoleonic Wars.

First Sentence: Nathaniel Drinkwater did not see the carriage.

This novel is fourth in Woodman's Nathaniel Drinkwater series.  This series follows the career of Drinkwater as he progresses through the naval ranks.  The series extends to fourteen novels.

At the beginning of the novel, Drinkwater is a lieutenant without a ship.  His career has bogged down due to political issues.  He is desperate for a command of any kind.  He is assigned to the bomb vessel Virago.  The Virago has not been to sea in years.  It is in disrepair, but is structurally sound.

Drinkwater sees the Virago as a chance to gain positive notice from his superior officers.  If he does well with the Virago, he may have a chance for advancement.  In the British navy of the nineteenth century, it was important to have friends of high rank. Valor and success in battle was a very helpful way to get noticed.

The navy is preparing to sail to the Baltic.  Who they will fight there has not been determined.  It could be the Danes, the Swedes, or the Russians.  Several bomb vessels are to be included with the fleet.  The Virago is intended to be a supply ship for the bomb vessels, however it was originally designed as a bomb vessel.  Drinkwater hopes to fight his ship and gain positive notice from his superiors.

Just as the fleet is ready to leave England, Drinkwater's brother Edward turns up.  He has murdered both his former mistress and her new French lover.  He begs Nathaniel to help him avoid the gallows.

Can Drinkwater find a way to save his brother, captain his ship, and help the fleet gain victory at sea?

I enjoyed reading this book.  Woodman has woven an adventure story with the historical facts of the British navy.  The events in this novel surround the battle of Copenhagen in 1801.  While Drinkwater and the Virago are fictitious, Woodman's novel makes you believe that they could have been there.

The Bomb Vessel

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