In Thesing’s debut historical thriller, a British lieutenant finds himself submerged in a World War I naval battle.
In the summer of 1914, Lt. Henry Fischer enjoys a cushy position in Great Britain’s Royal Navy as a navigation officer aboard a destroyer, sitting comfortably in the sunny Mediterranean. But when word comes down of a promotion, Henry leaps at the chance to become a special aide to Vice Adm. Sir George Warrender, commander of the Royal Navy’s 2nd Battle Squadron. Henry’s first assignment at his new post is nothing short of a dream: a special invite to the annual Kiel Week Regatta, where naval officers clink glasses and swap stories with European royalty. There, he’ll get to meet Germany’s infamous Kaiser Wilhelm II and even race aboard his private yacht. On the other side is Johannes Speiss, a young sailor in the German naval fleet. The two young men meet at the regatta but don’t have time to learn much about each other before the mood changes radically. Kaiser Wilhelm is informed that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Archduchess Sophie, have been assassinated by Serbian terrorists in Sarajevo. From that point on, it’s simply a matter of time until both Britain and Germany—and Fischer and Speiss—are in the thick of what will become the first world war. Later, Speiss gets an assignment as an officer aboard one of the infamous German “undersea boats”: U-9. As with any war-themed story, there’s battle, glory, death, victory and defeat in spades. Much of the novel’s appeal is in its documentation of the great naval battles of WWI, particularly the day in September 1914 when a lone German U-boat felled three British cruisers. History buffs, particularly those with a passion for the sea, will enjoy this in-depth look at the early days of submarine warfare. Beyond that, the prose is steady enough but doesn’t distinguish itself from the many other novels that crowd this historical fiction genre. Readers looking for an exciting yarn may not find unique, realistic characters, but they will appreciate the novel’s fast pace.
A thoroughly researched submarine novel that sails along smoothly despite underdeveloped characters.