Friday 21 February 2014

Britannia's Reach - the Second Dawlish Chronicle

Dawlish looked at him in amazement. "But this is a private matter," he said. "No British interest..."
"Ah, but there you're wrong Commander," Topcliffe cut him short. "Britannia's reach is not just political or military alone. What higher interest can there be than consolidation of Britain's commercial interests?"
The first book of the Dawlish Chronicles, Britannia’s Wolf told how Nicholas Dawlish, an ambitious young British naval officer, was seconded unofficially to the Ottoman Navy as the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 approached its vicious climax. In the process he not only fought Russians by land and by sea but also found himself embroiled in a maelstrom of intrigue and barbarism, as well as sacrifice and heroism, on the Turkish side. He also fell in love, though he shrunk a long while from admitting it.
Antoine Vanner on a cold, windy day on the British coast!
The second book in the series, Britannia’s Reach, has just been published. Now back in Britain, Dawlish is established in a prestigious position involving torpedo development. Life is comfortable until on one rainy November night in 1879 a cab draws up at his front door. The visitor is somebody Dawlish has worked for before and has a proposition which is very hard to refuse – especially as Dawlish aspires to further advancement in rank…

…three months later, on a broad river deep in the heart of South America, a flotilla of paddle steamers thrashes slowly upstream. It is laden with troops, horses and artillery, its objectives 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.

In this expedition Dawlish is playing a leading role.  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…

What others have said about Britannia’s Reach: 
extracts from  Amazon reviews

Linda Collison, Novelist;
As I read I couldn't help but see parallels with Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness… the author's knowledge of the period and the events is apparent, yet the details never get in the way of a good, if violent, story. The ethics of the engagement are questionable and the author does nothing to glamorize the conflict; this is no recount of the Glorious First of June, this is no pastiche of the battle of Trafalgar. Instead, Britannia's Reach is a dark, brutal, complex story, told in a compelling style.
Instead of trying to validate Dawlish's actions as a hero's deeds, Vanner shows us his motives and his actions. Nicholas Dawlish – an honorable man, a likeable man – is forced to make a terrible choice. It is this dilemma that elevates the story above most historical action-adventure books.
C.E.Ramsay, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran:
Britannia's Reach by Antoine Vanner is the second in a series of first-rate naval yarns by the best historical author I have read in years… Dawlish is recruited by a British corporation to suppress a revolution bankrupting its assets. But what begins as routine gunboat operations in the South American country of Paraguay quickly turns into nightmare river battles. His riverboat forces initially mauled in a cunning surprise attack, Dawlish finds himself matching wits with a Spartacus-style military genius in league with an equally innovative yet vengeful naval officer. Meanwhile leaders of the mercenary army Dawlish finds himself assigned to reveal themselves to be nothing more than hired-guns of a brutal industrial slave-empire. Their conduct makes it obvious the rebels have some just cause, so Dawlish in his humanity risks all to provide alternatives. But when villains and heroes on both sides refuse to bend, the remorseless war goes on – and only Dawlish wants to prevent the outcome from growing into an apocalyptic nightmare.
For this exciting and thought-provoking tale I give Antoine Vanner a Marine Corps "Oohrah!" and look forward to the next instalment.
Seymour Hamilton, Novelist
Britannia’s Reach is not a book for the faint-hearted. Blood and destruction spatter the pages with historic accuracy that recalled for me the exploits of Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe, possibly because much of this Dawlish adventure takes place ashore. This is a riverine war, in which seamanship is challenged by the task of getting unwieldy ships up a strongly defended river. This suits Dawlish, because he is something of an inventor and military technician, who can focus on refinements of gunnery and ignore the human suffering it inflicts -- at least until after the engagements are over…
Vanner has mastered the art of pacing a story. The engagements kept me turning pages, intent on the unfolding events. I'm a reader in the bathtub, where I stayed until the water was so cold I had to get out, towel while shivering, and repair to bed where I continued to read far into the night.


Britannia’s Reach is available in either paperback or Kindle format.
As an introductory offer the Kindle version is offered at $1.26 in the United States and Canada and at £0.77 in the United Kingdom and Europe. Click below the cover image for details.
If you have not previously read the first Dawlish novel, Britannia’s Wolf, this is now your opportunity to meet Nicholas Dawlish on his first published adventure. Both Paperback and Kindle versions are available. Click below the cover image for details.

Click here for purchase details

Click here for purchase details

If you want to know more about Antoine Vanner, Nicholas Dawlish and The Dawlish Chronicles, plus a lot about the Victorian era, then try website

Antoine Vanner's grandchildren, John and Nicolette, celebrating publication!
Themselves novelists in the future perhaps!


  1. I'm looking forward to another fine read on the career of Nicholas Dawlish.

  2. Thanks Roger - and the are more to come! I hope you'll enjoy them all.