Resolute and genuine, Letter of Marque is a lively tale, sure to entertain and enlighten.The Treaty of Amiens did not start well for Owen Harriet. It’s spring of 1802. The treaty has idled the British navy. Owen’s been sent ashore in London where he soon learns that his inheritance has been stolen and he must survive on half-pay. Owen returns to his childhood home in Newbury. He reunites with his dear brother, Albert, and learns that Becca, his childhood sweetheart, is still in love with him.Letter of Marque, the third book of The Sailing Master saga begins where Owen’s first three years at sea ends. Owen, however, has outgrown Newbury. He sets out in pursuit of his true purpose¬—to become a Sailing Master—unaware of the many surprises that await him, not least of which is a covert mission. His ship, the HMS Eleanor must disguise herself as a West African slaver in a ruse of war. Owen is there when two warring factions forge an armistice on a sandbar in Mesurado River in Monrovia. Later, he must deal with the unexpected return of Theophilé Oignon, his nemesis.
When I began reading this series, I did not know what to expect. I had read the Patrick O’Brian series on the British Navy, so the bar was set pretty high regarding any book written about the same subject and time frame. When I finished the first book, I knew The Sailing Master was in the same league. Letter of Marque is a fitting end to the trilogy; an entertaining read for sure, but also, and this is an important element(IMHO) of good historical-fiction, it is educational. The reader is treated to a geography/navigation/life of a sailor on half-pay, etc., lesson throughout the narrative, but in such a way that the flow of the narrative is undisturbed.
As in the the first two books, the focus is on Owen Harriet. It has been a pleasure to watch his character develop over the years. Now on his own, without his mentor Mr. Lau, he faces a host of problems, not the least of which is the appearance of that nasty piece of work, ‘The Onion’. An exciting tale of the perils of the sea, even in a time of peace. So, my fellow readers, if you enjoyed Patrick O’Brian, you will enjoy The Sailing Master. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Conflict. Love. Commitment & Betrayal . . . all abound in this intrepid novel of the sea set in the Golden Age of Sail. The looming shadow of the Napoleonic War dims the waning glow of the Enlightenment, yet Owen Harriet’s heartfelt narrative provides insight into the human condition. And an overarching question emerges . . . is this chronicle simply the story of a man, or of an entire age? From the opening broadside at the Battle of the Nile to the ironic conclusion off Ushant, Owen continues to come of age, maintaining a steadfast relationship with his beloved mentor, Ignatius Comet Lau, HMS Eleanor’s esteemed Sailing Master. Deep within French Indochina. Lost on the Mekong River. Owen befriends an inscrutable boy monk, only to fall prey to a demonic French privateer. A powerful enigma continues to haunt Owen and he begins to understand. A premonition of unknown origin? An Oracle? Or a remnant calling from his own childhood imagination.
The Long Passage continues the development of young Owen Harriet, now a Midshipman aboard HMS Eleanor. The author has delivered a seaworthy tale that not only entertains, but is also rather instructive about life in the British Navy, and especially instructive on navigating the vastness of an ocean. Another aspect of the narrative that I enjoyed was the descriptive talent of the author. From the reed beds of The Mekong to the inquisitiveness of a blue whale, the reader is immersed in the scenery, and flinching from the sound and fury of a cannon volley. Owen grows up a lot on this journey through his innate intelligence and by his experiences, some of which are rather harrowing, and I look forward to reading more of his adventures. I highly recommend both books of The Sailing Master series. 5 stars
Years ago I read Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series and was captivated by the vivid portrayal of life on a British warship. In The Sailing Master-Coming of Age I found that same vivid portrayal and was once again transported to an age when nations relied on their navies for protection and for exploration. The author gives a wonderful account of what it took to man and sail a warship, often in chaotic conditions. While O’Brian focused on the doings of and the relationship between the captain and his surgeon/spy, the focus here is on the crew; especially the young boys who live a rough existence doing the bidding of officers and crew. The protagonist, Owen Harriet, is taken on as cabin boy for his uncle, the captain of the frigate Eleanor. It’s a tough learning curve for a 12 year old when he finds himself alone and fearful. However, his innate intelligence is put to use as he is tutored by Eleanor’s sailing master, and in a nice twist he gets involved in espionage with a mysterious diplomatic passenger. The author, by his descriptive abilities, makes the reader feel the roll of the ship in heavy seas, entertains the reader with the conversational patois of the crew, and shows the reader the best and the worst qualities of the men on Eleanor. I really enjoyed this book, a tale of many layers, and not just a few surprises. 5 stars