The British Navy cruises on steam, not sails, in this Victorian-era series

Britannia’s Wolf – review April 19, 2013 By R. Moore

I read “Britannia’s Wolf” and enjoyed it on several levels. First, and to my mind most importantly, I considered it a “good read,” one that gave me enjoyment commensurate with the time invested. I’m a nautical genre fan, and have read many of the series set in at the peak of the age of sail and the conflicts between Britain and France in the 18th and early 19th centuries. As much as I love them, it was refreshing to begin a series that is set in a different time period and with different players (aside from Britain) in the Great Game of later 19th Century national rivalries and colonial imperialism. The battle scenes are vivid and showcase a different form of naval warfare from the exchange of volleys at a cable’s length or closer of the wooden ship era, one that is inching closer to the long-distance duels of the early 20th Century. I particularly appreciated the way the author dealt with the rapidly evolving technology of the time, which was showcased particularly in the small arms, and more interesting to me (because I know less about them) the naval artillery, with muzzle-loaders still in use next to rapid-fire breechloaders.

Nicholas Dawlish is the British officer at the center of this novel which promises to be the first of a series chronicling a career that has been outlined in the author’s mind. He is of his times, a Victorian, and American readers should bear with such traits as his then-proper concerns of class and place in matters of the heart. He is an embodiment of “stiff upper lip,” but bears some internal conflicts which will help humanize him as the series continues. And he is ingenious and unrelenting in a fight, virtues that serve both him and the reader well when he’s in conflict.

Click here to return to “Books”