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In Distant Waters Hardcover – December, 1988


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr (December 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312025866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312025861
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,907,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater, R.N., now seems to be repeating events in his life. In 1807, he's once again sent on a semisecret mission by spymaster Lord Dungarth ( A Baltic Mission ), is tempted by a foreign beauty ( A Brig of War ) and is captured by his enemies ( 1805 ). This time, though, the incidents occur in the Pacific Northwest, where Drinkwater is sent to foil Russian attempts at south-of-Alaska settlement and to prevent a Russo-Spanish alliance in northern California. Our hero vies with England's enemies, mainly on the brig Patrician , where he is also preoccupied with a disaffected crew always on the brink of mutiny. Using some real-life Russians and Californios, Woodman spins a plausible what-if tale featuring, as usual, details of seamanship, the requisite gory battle scenes and glimpses of world politics.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Richard Woodman was born in London in 1944. He became an indentured midshipman in cargo liners at 16 and has sailed in a variety of ships, serving from apprentice to captain. He remains a professional sailor and in 1978 won the Marine Society's Harmer Award. Richard Woodman served an apprenticeship in cargo-liners, qualified as a navigator and spent another eleven years at sea as a commander. His passion for the sea is reflected in his prolific output, which includes works of both fiction (the Nathaniel Drinkwater series) and non-fiction (recently, The Sea Warriors, published by Constable). Richard Woodman spent over 30 years at sea. His prolific output includes fiction (Nathaniel Drinkwater series) and non-fiction (recently, The Sea Warriors). Richard Woodman is best known for his Nathaniel Drinkwater series of historical naval novels. Born in London in 1944 Richard joined his first ship at the age of 16 and spent over 30 years at sea. Married with two adult children, he lives in Harwich. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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The series is fast moving and give some history as well.
Ron
This novel is the eighth novel Richard Woodman's Nathaniel Drinkwater series.
Michael S. Kraus
In my opinion the Drinkwater series is greatly underrated in the genre.
Bill Mac

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bill Mac on July 5, 2001
Format: Perfect Paperback
I became addicted to the Nathaniel Drinkwater series with the first installment. In my opinion the Drinkwater series is greatly underrated in the genre. Woodman has managed to create a niche between the lyricism of Patrick O'Brian and the furious action of Alexander Kent. Woodman writes well but sparingly and creates realistic characters with depth. Drinkwater, his prime creation, is the most realistic of any protagonist in the genre. He is a decent man who makes mistakes and doesn't always have control of the situation. He doesn't have the personal magnetism of a Bolitho or Ramage nor does he have the brilliance of a Hornblower. He does his duty to the best of his ability and ultimately is successful.
In Distant Waters starts out ominously where Baltic Mission left off. Having brought sensitive intelligence back to England Drinkwater and his crew are immediately dispatched halfway round the world more for security reasons than from necessity it appears. Drinkwater must begin by hanging a deserter who in his own mind shouldn't be hanged under the circumstances. The demands of duty outweigh all other demands. The hanging casts a pall over the entire novel and is undoubtedly a motivator for some of the later problems.
The route, the date and to some extent the mission are similar to The Happy Return, a trip round the Horn in 1808 to play havoc with the Spanish. Readers of the genre will know what neither Drinkwater nor Hornblower knew, that the Spanish will change sides. Like Hornblower in The Happy Return Drinkwater will not find out about the switch in time and must pursue subsequent plans accordingly. At this point the similarities end. While Hornblower was in firm command of his ship, Drinkwater's leadership and crew loyalty are tenuous.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 18, 2002
Format: Perfect Paperback
Here we see Nat in command of Patrician, a cut-down 64 (Antigone having been too badly damaged in the previous battle); neither he nor his men were allowed leave for reasons of national security and his first task is to hang a deserter - not an auspicious start to a trip round the Horn.
Mother Russia is in evidence again and there are hints of desertion that become all too real after landing on a deserted island; the little freedom the crew are given is curtailed as they sight, then sink a prize; more desertions as they repatriate the prisoners, then sabotage almost completes the felony. To say more would reveal too much, but there is more than enough intrigue and action to hold the attention.
Slightly different from the previous 7 in the series, it appears stilted and chopped into seemingly disparate paragraphs, which throws one initially, but ultimately works very well as the hints and threads of the plots are drawn together. As usual, the spare, accurate descriptions leave one in no doubt as to the relative positions of the protagonists in each action, making it enjoyably easy to follow the sequence.
Again, this is based on fact, the surprising thing is how many of the characters really existed.
An exceptionally fine read *****
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By tertius3 on June 6, 2001
Format: Perfect Paperback
Following on BALTIC MISSION, Woodman again shows us British-Russian enmities, but here far, far from the European scene of the previous seven novels. Now 1808, Capt. Drinkwater's frigate rounds the cape and heads to the Northern Pacific, experiencing a long slide of morale among his crew of sailors too long without shore leave. For once he is not on a spy mission. He encounters a dishonorable Spanish captain and perfidy, intrigues his way through Spanish San Francisco with the help of a beautiful woman, runs afoul of bad luck and helpless defeat, and is bested by a Yankee mountain man. The book climaxes in a series of violent encounters with the Russians, who are moving on (British) Oregon from Alaska in alliance with Spain. This is an unusual but true setting for one of the more remote encounters of the Napoleonic Wars, the world's first true World War of global empires.
These are well-crafted and authentic sounding stories, but without the infectious humor of a Forester or O'Brian, or the gusto of Lambdin. Woodman writes in a style that is a little too serious and grim to evoke my empathy or wonder, and skips too quickly through the battle scenes. He doesn't quite seem to love the sea and those who sail upon it. IMHO, the better sailing-navy authors I've read would rank as: O'Brian and Forester, Lambdin and the new Stockwin, Woodman, with real Capt. Murryat and Adm. Mack below the line. (Sheridan House omits three of the early books from its Drinkwater republication list, but is printed on better stock than the earlier, execrable but much cheaper, Time Warner pb edition.)
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This is one of the later novels in the Drinkwater series. I believe it is number eight if I have counted correctly. It is passably good fiction, but not the best in the series. The author seems to borrow a bit from Forester, sending Captain Drinkwater on a mission to the Pacific just as Spain is again switching sides, destroying a Spanish frigate and then discovering belatedly that Spain is now again an ally. The author seems to fall into the bad habit O'Brien had in some of his later novels, i.e., the action brushes past some events that are referred to by reference, and the action is left somewhat unfinished, with Drinkwater still in the Pacific, to be picked up in a sequel.

I think perhaps that Drinkwater also comes across a little too much as a superhero. Forester's Hornblower was a more believable character if you stick to the novels (the second TV series went a bit astray with the character, and seemed to be about someone else). When Hornblower lost a ship, he escaped and returned to England in a smaller, recaptured vessel. Perhaps this would have been a better novel if Drinkwater would have escaped and returned home in the captured Spanish dispatch vessel. The action in this novel was more along the lines of George Abercrombie Fox capturing the Turkish harem.

I would note that the author seems to get a bit inventive with United States history (I had that problem in another of his later novels). In checking the history of Astoria, Oregon (inside the mouth of the Columbia River), I can find nothing about Russians. The American Lewis and Clark Expedition reached the location by land in 1805, and spent the winter there before returning home in 1806. John Jacob Astor's fur trading company (American) founded a permanent fur trading post at the site in 1811, which was sold to the British NorthWest Company in 1813.
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