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The Riddle of the Sands (1903)

by Erskine Childers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,137565,135 (3.57)224
While on a sailing trip in the Baltic Sea, two young adventurers-turned-spies uncover a secret German plot to invade England. Written by Childers--who served in the Royal Navy during World War I--as a wake-up call to the British government to attend to its North Sea defenses, The Riddle of the Sands accomplished that task and has been considered a classic of espionage literature ever since, praised as much for its nautical action as for its suspenseful spycraft.… (more)
  1. 60
    The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (simon_carr)
    simon_carr: Similar in many ways: plucky Englishman chances upon a dastardly German plot. Thoroughly enjoyable.
  2. 40
    Thirst for the Sea: The Sailing Adventures of Erskine Childers by Erskine Childers (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: The actual sailing logs and articles of Childer's real cruises, and smuggling!
  3. 10
    The riddle of Erskine Childers by Andrew Boyle (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: To know the man even better, read his now famous novel - the other riddle.
  4. 00
    The Falcon on the Baltic by E. F. Knight (Cynfelyn)
    Cynfelyn: The Dulcibella sails the same waters the Falcon had sailed less than twenty years earlier. Some things have changed, for example the Kiel Canal has replaced the Eider Canal, but the weather, the sailing and the sense of place are the same.
  5. 11
    Kim by Rudyard Kipling (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: More spying and skulduggery
  6. 01
    The Zeal of the Convert by J. Burke Wilkinson (John_Vaughan)
  7. 02
    The English Channel by Nigel Calder (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: Cruises in the same water
  8. 02
    Biggles and the Black Peril by W. E. Johns (simon_carr)
    simon_carr: Espionage and dastardly Germans aplenty in both.

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» See also 224 mentions

English (54)  German (2)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Set before World War I, this enthralling novel pitches two amateur sailors, Davies and Carruthers, against the secret forces of mighty Germany. Powers of deduction and navigational skills prove equally important in uncovering a plot which threatens personal as well as national security. The book was responsible for the UK development of the naval base at Rosyth, as Davies gradually reveals that he suspects that the Germans are undertaking something sinister in the German Frisian islands. This book is said to be the first spy novel and was published in 1903. I enjoyed the book very much but since the author was a sailor the information about yachting was a bit too detailed. I would recommend this book to those who love yachting and spying. ( )
  EadieB | Apr 26, 2020 |
Reprint with new introduction by Norman Donaldson. ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
One of the very first spy thrillers. Two English yachtsmen sailing around the Frisian Islands discover a German treasure salvage operation that might be a cover for something more nefarious. They make clandestine investigations so they can alert the Admiralty and Foreign Office. There are many superb feats of small boatsmanship.

There was a pretty good movie version in 1979, with Michael York and Simon MacCorkindale.

As interesting and exciting as this novel is, it’s nothing compared to the life of its author. Just read his Wikipedia page—totally bonkers. One tidbit: When he was (spoiler) being executed by the Irish Free State for the trumped-up charge of owning a pistol (a gift from Michael Collins), he made it a point to shake the hand of every man on the firing squad. His final words were, “Take a step or two forward, lads, it will be easier that way.” ( )
  k6gst | Feb 12, 2020 |
Difficult to read but could have been written by almost nobody besides Erskine Childers. Pretty dang good. ( )
  smallllama | Aug 30, 2019 |
great story- reminded me of the John Bucchan books especially "the 39 steps".If you are into sailing , which I know nothing about I would guess the detail around the boat and seamanship would be fascinating. ( )
  HenryRawlingson | Jul 1, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
Forfatter: Erskine Childers

Boken beskriver to engelskmenns seilas i en knøttliten båt for vel 100 år siden. Området de seiler i er grunt og fullt av sandbanker, og to ganger i døgnet fylles og tømmes det av tidevannet. De gjør noen spennende oppdagelser om mulig invasjon av England... Boken har vært utgitt utallige ganger verden over og er også blitt filmatisert to ganger. På tross av at den ble skrevet for over hundre år siden, kan den leses som en moderne spenningsroman. Forfatteren og boken representerer hver for seg to meget interessante historier. Childers var ire, men kjempet for engelskmennene under Boerkrigen. Deretter ble han engasjert i IRA, der han drev med våpensmugling med sin 60 fot Colin Archer. Under første verdenskrig var han igjen å finne på britisk side. Boken fikk stor betydning for britenes forsvarstenkning.
Denne utgaven inneholder en epilog av forfatteren som ikke har vært publisert på norsk tidligere. Boken er glimrende oversatt av Jon Winge.
added by KystbiblioteketOslo | editFlyt Forlag, Anne Nygren
Apart from the political significance of the book, "The Riddle of the Sands" is fiction of a high quality. Its style and its permeating atmosphere of the sea suggest Conrad; and, like Conrad, the author takes us so thoroughly with him that our hearts beat with those of the perplexed voyagers, and we even share the smells and flavors of their cramped little yacht.

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Childers, Erskineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Childers, Erskine C.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Donaldson, NormanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drummond, MaldwinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesser, AntonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Connor, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whistler, DanielIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have read of men who, when forced by their calling to live for long periods in utter solitude - save for a few black faces - have made it a rule to dress regularly for dinner in order to maintain their self-respect and prevent a relapse into barbarism. It was in some such spirit, with an added touch of self-consciousness, that, at seven o'clock in the evening of 23rd September in a recent year, I was making my evening toilet in my chambers in Pall Mall.
But I did know something of Germany... I described her marvellous awakening in the last generation under the strength and wisdom of her rulers; her intense patriotic ardour; her seething industrial activity, and, most potent of all, the forces that are moulding modern Europe, her dream of a colonial empire, entailing her transformation from a land-power to a sea-power.
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Average: (3.57)
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1 7
1.5 3
2 31
2.5 12
3 89
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4.5 13
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141031271, 0143106325

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