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In Distant Waters (1988)

by Richard Woodman

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644309,756 (4)3
From the tide-torn waters of the Thames, where Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater is compelled to hand a deserter, to the seas off Cape Horn, storm-scoured gateway to the Pacific, the great cruiser PATRICIAN is tense with the threat of mutiny.Despite this, Drinkwater captures a Spanish frigate and meets the stunning Doña Ana Maria, daughter of the Commandante of San Francisco. But, having disturbed a hornet's nest of colonial intrigue, Drinkwater finds that the Spanish are eager to humiliate him and the Royal navy. Moreover, a Russian battleship lurks somewhere offshore, pursuing Tsar Alexander's dark plans. Caught between two formidable enemies, Drinkwater's mission is made impossible by treachery.But chance brings the aid of Doña Ana Maria and mysterious mountain man. In the distant waters of this beautiful and remote region, Drinkwater struggles to carry out his mission and is truck with ten most extraordinary twist of fortune in his eventful life.… (more)

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This was disappointing. The story is told in stop-start fashion, one scene of danger seen and overcome, cut, next scene and next danger, until we reach California. There’s no momentum, no sense of suspense. Drinkwater gets embroiled with the Spanish and the Russians but the author signally fails to make the confrontation dramatic or even remotely exciting. There’s a real person, María de la Concepción Arguello, and her amazing love story, and the author doesn’t know what to do with it. Nor with his hero either, whose orders are alarmingly vague and who consequently wanders around with no sense of purpose. The dialogue is stilted, the characters wooden, the descriptions dull. ( )
  MissWatson | Dec 18, 2018 |
In the prologue, a deserter is hung from the yards of the HMS Patrician before the ship leaves port on their mission to the distant Pacific coast of North America in 1808. Ill-luck seems to hover over the ship. Discontent simmers barely below the surface as orders are unclear, the crew waits for opportunities to desert, foul weather hampers them, honor is betrayed, and it seems Drinkwater has earned professional disgrace.

This story develops the deep friendships and loyalties that are such an important part of the Drinkwater series. It also draws the fine yearnings that connect the books. Lt. James Quilhampton's love for Catriona MacEwan seems hopeless due to the relentless demands of his career. Forced separations from his family take their toll on Drinkwater. Death always lingers nearby to separate shipboard friends forever.

Though the mood for much of the novel is one of anxious waiting for the other shoe to drop, it is not depressing and is ultimately hopeful. This series is actually one story divided into 11 chronological volumes. Inconsistencies are minimal--I haven't found any. Characters continue to grow and change through their experiences and the passage of time. It is an excellent series! The only thing that keeps it from being 5 stars in my mind is also among its greatest strengths--the author is a sailor first, an author second. ( )
  rsstick | Apr 10, 2010 |
One of the darker books in the set, but very well done.

Drinkwater, afflicted with a justifiably mutinous crew (the key members have not been ashore in a friendly port for four years), finds himself assigned to prevent the Russians from settling on the Pacific Coast of North America. Many of the crew desert at San Francisco or Drakes Bay, and nearly everyone spends some time imprisoned in either Spanish or Russian custody. Eventually Mr. Q manages to rescue Drinkwater and the situation improves.

And that synopsis leaves out all the diplomatic complications, which are considerable. As usual, Drinkwater mostly muddles through, with an occasional creative flash.

This review has also been published on a dabbler's journal. ( )
  joeldinda | May 30, 2009 |
I knew Nathanial Drinkwater had possibilities! This book has less technical sailing talk, more dialogue and character development than the earlier book in the series I read, King's Cutter. Well done. An excellent example of this genre. ( )
  patience_crabstick | Jun 26, 2008 |
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From the tide-torn waters of the Thames, where Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater is compelled to hand a deserter, to the seas off Cape Horn, storm-scoured gateway to the Pacific, the great cruiser PATRICIAN is tense with the threat of mutiny.Despite this, Drinkwater captures a Spanish frigate and meets the stunning Doña Ana Maria, daughter of the Commandante of San Francisco. But, having disturbed a hornet's nest of colonial intrigue, Drinkwater finds that the Spanish are eager to humiliate him and the Royal navy. Moreover, a Russian battleship lurks somewhere offshore, pursuing Tsar Alexander's dark plans. Caught between two formidable enemies, Drinkwater's mission is made impossible by treachery.But chance brings the aid of Doña Ana Maria and mysterious mountain man. In the distant waters of this beautiful and remote region, Drinkwater struggles to carry out his mission and is truck with ten most extraordinary twist of fortune in his eventful life.

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