It is 1782 and England’s Royal Navy rules the waves. But one impatient young captain is far from happy merely policing the maritime highways.
‘We need some action, Tim, some proper action with steel and smoke and powder. Blood and Glory, Hastie! That is what we need.’
These are the words and dreams of the young Horatio Nelson, whose lust for war and honour is so consuming he is even prepared to disobey the orders of his Admiralty and Government superiors.
Nelson: The Powder Keg is the third in a series by Jan Needle that looks at some of the lesser known and sometimes shocking exploits of the Norfolk clergyman’s son before he became one of the country's most iconic heroes.
Once again, the story is recounted by his friend Tim Hastie, who this time joins him on board the 28-gun former French frigate the Albemarle. To his dismay Nelson – health ravaged by years in the disease-ridden tropics – is sent on escort duty in the icy Baltic, and from there to Canada with bullion to pay the British Army in Quebec, where his ship’s sails get frozen to the yards.
With the American War of Independence over, it is all too tame for Horatio, who is desperate to seek glory on the Caribbean Station. When he finally gets there, and the French invade Turk’s Island, the intensely patriotic Nelson can’t believe his luck – until his own counter-invasion goes horribly wrong.
Returning to Britain, half in disgrace and with a wife most men think tragically unsuitable, he is on the verge of giving up the sea – or even, horror of horrors, joining the French Navy! The hated French, however, are his saviours. For it is now the 1790s, and the French Revolution has torn a gash in Europe.
The growing chaos of their revolution reignites the war between the two countries, and Nelson, appointed to command the Agamemnon, finds himself in the Mediterranean, where his destiny takes some unexpected turns. One of them is his meeting with a beautiful young woman. She is called Emma Hamilton.
Author: Jan Needle
Title: Nelson: The Powder Keg
Series: The Nelson series
First Published by: Endeavour Press
Date: 18 January 2017