Tuesday 18 November 2014

Readying for launch: “Britannia’s Shark”

“Britannia’s Shark” is the third of the Dawlish Chronicles novels and is due for publication in paperback and Kindle formats in early December.

It’s 1881 and a daring act of piracy draws the ambitious British naval officer, Nicholas Dawlish, into a deadly maelstrom of intrigue and revolution.  Drawn in too is his wife Florence, for whom the glimpse of a half-forgotten face evokes memories of earlier tragedy. For both a nightmare lies ahead, amid the wealth and squalor of America’s Gilded Age and on a fever-ridden island ruled by savage tyranny. Manipulated ruthlessly from London by the shadowy Admiral Topcliffe, Nicholas and Florence Dawlish must make some very strange alliances if they are to survive – and prevail.

You may also recall that last month I invited readers to guess what the “X” would be in the title “Britannia’s X”. 

The only clues I offered were (a) that the action covers the period April – September1881, (b) that the adventure (and nightmare!) starts in the Northern Adriatic but shifts continents thereafter and (c) that Nicholas Dawlish’s intrepid wife, Florence, plays a key role.

Given this scant information, fans of the Dawlish Chronicles series responded with some splendid guesses, none of them actually “Shark” however. Here are the best:

Steve Cook:             “Britannia’s Secret”, hinting perhaps at what Florence might be wearing under her voluminous outer garments. As a gentleman however I could not possibly speculate about such a delicate subject, much less write about it. Dawlish would probably horsewhip me.

Robert Field:           “Britannia’s Argosy”, resulting from a really ingenious piece of reasoning. Robert identified Ragusa as an Adriatic port and “Argosy” as a Ragusan word. A splendid effort but, unfortunately, incorrect.

Ian Synge:                “Britannia’s Pig”, from another thread of ingenious reasoning. Again starting from the Adriatic setting, and knowing that there were tensions in this period between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia on commercial trade in pigs, resulting in a tariff confrontation entitled the “Pig War”, Ian had suspicions that Dawlish might have been sent to represent British economic interests in this imbroglio. Great idea, but incorrect. Perhaps Lady Agatha’s diplomat brother Oswald would be better suited to sorting this one out.

Carl Ramsay:           “Britannia’s Victory” – a great title and one to be stored for possible future use.

Shaun White:          “Britannia’s Blockade” – another splendid title that invites a story to support it.

And most outrageous of all:

Gary Early deserves to be quoted verbatim, in an answer capable of inspiring Gilbert and Sullivan to create HMS Pinafore, had they not already done so:

“It is the Northern Adriatic (for no obvious reason, but possibly for tax purposes). Nicholas Dawlish is in line to take command of Her Majesty's latest and greatest warship. So, too, are several other contenders. There is nothing to separate these men in terms of maritime competence and martial skill. Thus, in its wisdom, the Admiralty declares that command will be given to the officer with the best singing voice!

The book is, of course, "Brittannia's Got Talent."

I’ll be announcing soon Britannia’s Shark exact publication date in early December.

I hope that readers who’ve already met the Dawlish couple will be glad to make their acquaintance again and join them in a desperate adventure. In Britannia’s Wolf and Britannia’s Reach daring and initiative have earned Dawlish the advancement in the Royal Navy which he hungers for.  But is the price too high, for himself, for his principles and for the woman he loves?

Britannia’s Shark is being published through the Old Salt Press, an association of independent writers dedicated to publishing the finest in nautical fiction and non-fiction. I’ve been honoured by being asked to join founder authors Joan Druett, Rick Spilman, Alaric Bond and V.E. Ulett and hope that my continuing work will live up to the high standards they have already set.


  1. Talk of Pirates of Penzance makes me think of Britannia's Orphans...

    1. There might even be a role for a modern major-general!

  2. Some wonderful guesses. Your fans obviously 'got talent'!

  3. Honored to be included. "Britain's Got Talent" (Gary Early)! ha ha. That's great. Can't wait to read the new book.

    1. Maybe Florence can organise a charity talent-show in support of the "Sailors' Rest" in Portsmouth

  4. Excellent - can't wait to enjoy it Antoine!