“A Sea Cadet in 1711 and a Vice Admiral in 1718, young Wessel barged into battle against his Swedish foes wherever he found them, often in direct violation of orders issued by timid souls in the Admiralty. But Frederik IV, King of Denmark-Norway, loved a winner. He gave his youthful fighting cock promotion after promotion, over scores of officers of senior vintage. The result was that Peter had almost as many enemies among officers in the Danish-Norwegian Navy as he had in that of Sweden.
“So great were his battle conquests and his services to the nation that Captain Wessel, soon after his twenty-fifth birthday, was given a Patent of Nobility and the name Tordenskjold. Roughly translated, this means (Torden) The Thunderbolt that Strikes and (Skjold) The Shield that Defends. In actions on land and sea, Tordenskjold lifted his nom de guerre to deathless and stratospheric heights.
“While this book is based on historical events and peopled by real persons, it is by no means a definitive history. The Great Northern War, which ran from 1709 to 1719, sucked Denmark-Norway, Russia, Poland, and England into conflict against the then mighty Sweden. Its pattern is too complicated for compression into a one-volume book dedicated to pinpointing the career of a single participant. For that matter, the historical facts, folklore, and legends that have been built up over the centuries around Vice Admiral Peter Tordenskjold are so voluminous that, in themselves, they could cover quite a spread of bookshelf! The problem has not been what to put into this book, but what to leave out and still do justice to its subject.”