Britannia’s Innocent: The Dawlish Chronicles February – May 1864 by Antione Vanner

1864 – Political folly has brought war upon Denmark. Lacking allies, the country is invaded by the forces of military superpowers Prussia and Austria. Cut off from the main Danish Army, and refusing to use the word ‘retreat’, a resolute commander withdraws northwards. Harried by Austrian cavalry, his forces plod through snow, sleet and mud, their determination not to be defeated increasing with each weary step . . .

Across the Atlantic, civil war rages. It is fought not solely on American soil but also on the world’s oceans, as Confederate commerce raiders ravage Union merchant shipping as far away as the East Indies. And now a new raider, a powerful modern ironclad, is nearing completion in a British shipyard. But funds are lacking to pay for her armament and the Union government is pressing Britain to prevent her sailing . . .

Denmark is not wholly without sympathizers however. Britain’s heir to the throne is married to a Danish princess. With his covert backing, British volunteers are ready to fight for the Danes. And the Confederacy is willing to lease the new raider for two months if she can be armed as payment for the lease, although the Union government is determined to see her sunk . .

Just returned from Royal Navy service in the West Indies, the young Nicholas Dawlish is induced to volunteer and is plunged into the horrors of a siege, shore-bombardment, raiding and battle in the cold North Sea – notwithstanding divided loyalties . . .

In other books of the Dawlish Chronicles series, Dawlish is met as an experienced and resourceful officer, but in 1864 he is still an innocent. But he will need to learn fast . . .This is the eighth volume of the Dawlish Chronicles historical naval fiction series – action and adventure set in the age of transition from sail to steam in the later decades of the 19th Century. It can be enjoyed as part of the series or as a standalone story. Britannia’s Innocent is more than a naval thriller, or a tale of war and military conflict, for it tells of the earlier years of Nicholas Dawlish, a Royal Navy officer who is more familiar with steam, breech-loaders and torpedoes than with sails, carronades and broadsides.Other volumes in this naval fiction series – Britannia’s Wolf, Britannia’s Reach, Britannia’s Shark, Britannia’s Spartan, Britannia’s Amazon, Britannia’s Mission and Britannia’s Gamble, chart Dawlish’s rise in the Royal Navy. As a boy in the late 1850s he joined a service still commanded by veterans of the Napoleonic Wars. But sail is yielding to steam, new technologies are creating new weapons and established international power-balances are shifting. Against the background of real historical events Dawlish has to confront challenges inconceivable to earlier generations of officers.


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