Books of the Dawlish Chronicles series

Shown in chronological order of main action

All available in Paperback or Kindle format

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In which we meet the 19-year old Nicholas Dawlish on the threshold of promotion to Sub-Lieutenant …

1864 – Political folly has brought war upon Denmark. Lacking allies, the country is invaded by the forces of military superpowers Prussia and Austria. Across the Atlantic, civil war rages. It is fought not only 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. The Confederacy is willing to lease the new raider to Denmark for two months if she can be armed as payment, although the Union government is determined to see her sunk . . .

Just returned from Royal Navy service in the West Indies, the young Nicholas Dawlish volunteers to support Denmark. He is plunged into the horrors of a siege, shore-bombardment, raiding and battle in the cold North Sea – not to mention divided loyalties . . .

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It’s 1866 and Sub-Lieutenant Lieutenant Nicholas Dawlish is serving on the Pacific Station in the gunvessel HMS Sprightly.

In Mexico, the war waged by republican supporters of Republican President Benito Juarez against French invaders and their puppet emperor’s forces is now turning in favour of the republic. ‘

Britain is neutral but large British interests – railway and mining enterprises – are at risk as the war-front edges ever closer. Investors in London are demanding British action to protect their assets.

And that’s why HMS Sprightly heads towards a county scourged by war and atrocity. Dawlish is plunged into deadly action by land and sea and into a web of political intrigue, treachery and greed.

But for Dawlish there’s something worse, a heart-breaking encounter with a figure from his past to whom he’s linked by a solemn promise that he can’t fulfill. What follows will be torment for him . . .

In which we find Lieutenant Nicholas Dawlish hungry for the next step on the promotion ladder …

1877: He’s chosen service on the Royal Navy’s hazardous Anti-Slavery patrol off East Africa for the opportunities it brings to make his name. But a shipment of slaves has slipped through his fingers. Now his reputation and chances of promotion, are at risk. He’ll stop at nothing to save them even if the means needed are illegal . . .

But greater events are underway in Europe. The Russian and Ottoman Empires are drifting ever closer to a war that could draw in other great powers. And Britain cannot stand aside – a Russian victory would spell disaster for her strategic links to India.

The Royal Navy is preparing for a war that might never take place. Dozens of young officers, all as qualified as Dawlish, are hoping for their own commands. He’s just one of many . . . and he lacks the advantages of patronage or family influence. But only a handful of powerful men know how unexpectedly vulnerable Britain will be if war comes. Could this weakness offer Dawlish his chance to advance?

Far from civilisation, dependent on a new and as yet unproven weapon, he’ll face a clever and ruthless enemy in unforeseeable and appalling circumstances . . .

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In which Nicholas Dawlish finds himself seconded to the Ottoman Turkish Navy

It is 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…

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In 1880, on a broad river in the heart of South America, a flotilla of paddle steamers thrashes slowly upstream, laden with troops, horses and artillery, intent on conquest and revenge.

Ahead lies a commercial empire that was wrested from a British consortium in a bloody revolution. Now the investors are determined to recoup their losses and are funding a vicious war to do so.

Nicholas Dawlish, an ambitious British naval officer, is playing a leading role in the expedition.  But as brutal land and river battles mark its progress upriver, and as both sides inflict and endure ever greater suffering, stalemate threatens.

And Dawlish finds himself forced to make a terrible ethical choice if he is to return to Britain with some shreds of integrity remaining…

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It’s April 1881, a year since Commander Nicholas Dawlish returned from the brutal campaign in Paraguay that is detailed in Britannia’s Reach.

A personal tragedy has drawn him yet closer to his beloved wife Florence and in its aftermath, they welcome the opportunity to combine his duty to observe trials of a new weapon in the Adriatic with an idyllic holiday together. Neither suspects that they are about to be drawn into nightmares in the United States of the Gilded Age and the fever-infested island of Cuba in revolt.

A naive genius, embittered Irish revolutionaries, Cuban rebels and a brutal Spanish tyranny will all have roles to play in the drama.

And at stake are not just Nicholas and Florence’s lives, but the future of a weapon that will play a significant role in world history . . .

Daring and initiative have already bought Dawlish 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?

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1882 and Captain Nicholas Dawlish RN has just taken command of the Royal Navy’s newest cruiser, HMS Leonidas. Her voyage to the Far East is to be a peaceful venture, a test of this innovative vessel’s engines and boilers.

Dawlish has no forewarning of the nightmare of riot, treachery, massacre and battle he and his crew will encounter.

A new balance of power is emerging in the Far East. Imperial China, weak and corrupt, is challenged by a rapidly modernising Japan, while Russia threatens from the north. They all need to control Korea, a kingdom frozen in time and reluctant to emerge from centuries of isolation.

Dawlish finds himself a critical player in a complex political powder keg. He must take account of a weak Korean king and his shrewd queen, of murderous palace intrigue, of a powerbroker who seems more American than Chinese and a Japanese naval captain whom he will come to despise and admire in equal measure. And he will have no one to turn to for guidance…

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1882: Florence Dawlish stands at the quayside in Portsmouth and watches the Royal Navy’s newest cruiser, HMS Leonidas, departing under command of her husband Nicholas. Months of separation lie ahead, quiet months which she plans to fill with charitable works.

But an unexpected incident brings Florence into brutal contact with the squalid underside of complacent Victorian society. With her personal loyalties challenged to the limit, and conscious that her persistence in seeking justice may damage her ambitious husband’s career, not to mention the possibility of prison for herself, Florence is drawn ever deeper into a maelstrom of corruption and violence.  The enemies she faces are merciless and vicious, their identities protected by guile, power and influence.

Britannia’s Amazon plays out in a world of extreme wealth and limitless poverty, marriages of American heiresses to British aristocracy and children starving in foul garrets, crusading journalists and hideously disfigured match-girls, arrogant aesthetes, ineffectual benevolence and espionage.

This volume includes as a bonus the long short-story Britannia’s Eye, which gives a new – and surprising – insight into Nicholas Dawlish’s childhood. It tells of his relationship with his uncle, a naval officer forced through ill-health to retire early, and of the secrets that this man brought with him to an early grave.

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1883: The slave trade flourishes in the Indian Ocean, a profitable trail of death and misery leading from ravaged African villages to the insatiable markets of Arabia. Britain is committed to its suppression but a firebrand British preacher presses for more vigorous action. Seen by many as a living saint, he is deliberately risking martyrdom by establishing a mission in the path of the slavers’ raiding columns. His supporters at home cannot be ignored and demand intervention to protect him.

This ostensibly simple task is assigned to Captain Nicholas Dawlish and his crew of HMS Leonidas. But it’s not going to be so straightforward . . .

Two Arab sultanates on the East African coast control access to the interior. Britain is reluctant to occupy them but cannot afford to let any other European power do so either. But now the German Empire is showing interest in colonial expansion . . .

For Dawlish, getting his fighting force up a shallow, fever-ridden river to the mission is only the beginning. There are obstacles to confronting the slavers, not least the missionary himself. The German presence is more contradictory and baffling than anticipated and a mysterious European is serving one of the sultans. Atrocities lie ahead, battles on land and in swamp also, and strange alliances must be made.

But the ultimate arbiters may be the guns of HMS Leonidas and those of her counterpart from the Imperial German Navy . . .

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1884 – a fanatical Islamist revolt is sweeping all before it in the vast wastes of the Sudan and establishing a rule of persecution and terror. Only the city of Khartoum holds out, its defence masterminded by a British national hero, General Charles Gordon. His position is weakening by the day and a relief force, crawling up the Nile from Egypt, may not reach him in time to avert disaster.

But there is one other way of reaching Gordon . . .

A boyhood memory leaves the ambitious Royal Navy officer Nicholas Dawlish no option but to attempt it.  The obstacles are daunting – barren mountains and parched deserts, tribal rivalries and merciless enemies – and this even before reaching the river that is key to the mission. Dawlish knows that every mile will be contested and that the siege at Khartoum is quickly moving towards its bloody climax.

Outnumbered and isolated, with only ingenuity, courage and fierce allies to sustain them, with safety in Egypt far beyond the Nile’s raging cataracts, Dawlish and his mixed force face brutal conflict on land and water as the Sudan descends into ever-worsening savagery.

And for Dawlish himself, one unexpected and tragic event will change his life forever . . .

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1884 – Captain Nicholas Dawlish departs for service in the Sudan, as told in Britannia’s Gamble, but his wife Florence, left behind, will face months of worry about him. And life in Britain promises to be humdrum, if worthy, at the start …

News of the suicide of a middle-aged widow evokes memories of her kindness when Florence was a servant. Left wealthy by her husband, this lady died a pauper, beggared within a few months, how and by whom, Florence does not know. But someone was responsible and there must be retribution. And for Florence to get justice will demand impersonation, guile and courage.

But a single wrong decision plunges her into an ever-deepening morass, where loyalty to her country and to seamen who served with her husband raises terrifying dilemmas. Old friends support her but old allies who offer help may have different agendas. In a time of shifting international alliances, in which not all the enemies she faces are British, she can be little more than a pawn. And pawns are often sacrificed . . .

Britannia’s Morass plays out against a backdrop of poverty and opulence, of courtroom drama and French luxury, of subterfuge, deceit, espionage and danger.

This volume also includes the bonus short story Britannia’s Collector, which tells of Nicholas Dawlish’s service as a young naval officer in a gunvessel operating off the coast of South America in 1866.

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It’s 1886. Captain Nicholas Dawlish RN is commanding a flotilla of the Royal Navy’s latest warships, including the massive battleship HMS Scipio.

He’s at Trinidad when news arrives of a volcanic eruption on a small West Indian island. The situation is worsening and only decisive action can avert massive loss of life. Dawlish and his ships are ordered to race there to render help. His enemy will be an angry mountain, vast in its malevolent power, a challenge that no naval officer has faced before.But Dawlish’s contest with the volcano is just the prelude to a longer association with the island. Its sovereignty is split – a British Crown Colony in the west and, in the east, an independent republic established seven decades earlier by self-emancipated slaves. When wrenched from France through war, both parts of the island seemed glittering economic prizes. Now they are impoverished backwaters where resentment seethes and old grudges fester. For many, the existence of a ‘black republic’ is resented, an affront to be excised.

Through this maelstrom, Nicholas Dawlish must navigate a skillful course . . .