Treason's Tide, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


An intense, imaginative and darkly atmospheric historical spy thriller - Patrick O'Brian meets John le Carre. (Previously published as The Emperor's Gold.)July 1805: Napoleon's army masses across the Channel - Britain is within hours of invasion and defeat.

Only one thing stands in the way - an obscure government bureau of murky origins and shadowy purpose: The Comptrollerate General for Scrutiny and Survey. And, rescued from a shipwreck, his past erased, Tom Roscarrock is their newest agent.In England, the man who recruited Roscarrock has disappeared, his agents are turning up dead, and reports of a secret French fleet are panicking the authorities.

In France, a plan is underway to shatter the last of England's stability.

Behind the clash of fleets and armies, there lies a secret world of intrigue, deception, treachery and violence - and Roscarrock is about to be thrown into it headfirst.




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** I am grateful to Nudge for supplying me with a free copy in return for a review. **It is 1805, and Tom Roscarrock is recruited as agent for the secret government intelligence unit of the Comptrollerate-General for Scrutiny and Survey to uncover the minds behind the civil unrest that’s sweeping the country, while Napoleon’s army and navy are preparing to invade Britain. But suddenly the man who recruited Roscarrock disappears, an uprising in London appears imminent, and there are indications that there is a French spy in the ranks of the Comptrollerate-General.Covering a period of roughly five weeks in those 400+ pages, from July to August 1805, the book transports the reader back in time as we follow Tom Roscarrock and a few other characters around the country - and even to France - on a day-to-day basis, so that we think we know them quite well by the end. Yet the author still has a few surprises in store and has thrown in plenty of red herrings to confuse and lead astray, so that I felt I wanted to read the book all over again to uncover the clues along the way as soon as I had finished reading it. Robert Wilton’s prose is eloquent and atmospheric, his descriptions evocative and dynamic, the plotting taut and incredibly tense at times, and the characters extremely well drawn; the fact that the novel is based on (little-known) real-life historic events makes the end result even more remarkable in my opinion. Constructing his narrative around the framework of genuine authentic documents and letters from the period, the author adds credibility to the fictionalised characters and plot strands and seemingly confirms events as described in the book, turning the novel into a cohesive and convincing whole; in the introduction he states that he hopes to illuminate the events portrayed in the novel, and he undoubtedly has achieved just that. He manages to describe a Britain poised on the edge of a knife, with no indications to those at the centre of events which way the balance will tip. It is fascinating to read about the mood in the country at this crucial time, and to imagine how easily it could have gone the other way. There is a real sense of civil unrest as the ripples of the French Revolution are still making themselves felt with radical ideas of reform, and of a government (the novel focuses on the Admiralty) in a state of permanent, if suppressed, panic. This is a tense, first-class spy thriller that is utterly gripping and absorbing, and the fact that this is Robert Wilton’s debut novel makes this achievement even more astonishing. Anyone still scoffing that historical fiction is ‘bad history’ or ‘literature light’ should take a look at this novel and Robert Wilton’s subsequent offering, Traitor’s Field, and they will realise that learning about events in history and intelligent entertainment needn’t be mutually exclusive.In the introduction, the author hopes that the novel will inspire the reader to make their own investigations into the facts described, and I will certainly do some background reading involving the facts leading up the Battle of Trafalgar, Napoleon’s planned invasion and the events of the 6th August 1805, but unfortunately he didn't feel it necessary to supply some additional historical notes, which would surely have added merit to an already excellent novel.This book was previously published in hardback as The Emperor’s Gold.