The further Napoleonic Wars adventures of British Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater (The Bomb Vessel, 1986; etc.). In this vigorous tale, the seaman patrols the English Channel 1804-5. As usual, Woodman devotes his early pages to rude action and color evoking the harshness of shipboard life; here, bloody skirmishes with French vessels and run-ins with an arrogant young noble test Drinkwater's mettle. Encounters with luminaries such as Prime Minister Pitt and the French Admiral de Villeneuve punctuate the novel's latter battlefilled pages, which culminate in the Trafalgar campaign. With close attention to detail (if too much dialect: ""Gorn the devil, Master 'Ill, now we oldsters ain't there to watch""), and plenty of action, this is satisfying historical nautical fare.