Sailing Daily 58
Book Review: The Guardship
James L. Nelson is Maine based author. Previous to the Guardship he authored the 4 volume Revolution at Sea series.
The Guardship is the first volume in a new series. For this series Nelson is tackling a rare subject for naval/historical fiction. There are many authors and series who cover sailing warships. Some touch on privateers. Few touch on the world of out and out piracy. Piracy still has strangely romantic ideals attached to it. In the Guardhsip Nelson dispels much of this romance.
Setting for The Guardship is the early 1700's in the then still British colony of Virginia. Nelson takes four main characters and thoroughly explores colonial life in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay and the innards of piracy.
The main character is Thomas Marlowe. Marlowe is an ex pirate trying to live down his illegal past and rise up colonial society to the rank of full blown gentleman. As with all the main character's in the Guardship, Marlowe does not lack for action. Most of this occurs when he takes command of the colonial naval guardship, The Plymouth Prize. Marlowe thinks this will be a good way to raise his status and catch the eye of the widow Elizabeth Tingling.
Just as Marlowe is a man with a past to hide, it turns out that Elizabeth's past is as a prostitute. Marlowe and Elizabeth become lovers. Upon breaking Elizabeth out of jail, where a scheme of the Wilkenson's has put her, the comment is: "Here we are, outlaws both." Together they meet one of the colonies elite powers, the Wilkenson's and Marlowe's old and fearsome pirate captain.
Matthew Wilkenson is killed by Marlowe in a duel of honor early in the book. This sets the Wilkenson family out to gain vengeance on Marlowe. Despite burning the entire tobacco crop of Marlowe's plantation they never do fully put one over on him.
The fourth main persona is Jean-Pierre Le Rois a pirate who journey's to the Chesapeake. In Marlowe's pirate past Le Rois was Marlowe's captain. Marlowe survived a fight with Le Rois which led to his new life.
When Marlowe learns that Le Rois is near Virginia he is haunted and scared by Le Rois' power and their past relationship.
Eventually it comes down to Marlowe and Le Rois in the hold of a ship lit by pots of brimstone. You'll have to pick up a copy of The Guardship to see how it ends.
The above is a short summary of what is a truly action packed book. Nelson wastes little time on build up. Each of the main characters is involved with at least 4 or 5 major plot issues.
Nelson's take on piracy is an alternative view of the past. Nelson's look at the ruthless yet democratic world of pirates is a rare one. There's no need to further romanticize pirates- they were barbaric killers and Nelson shows that in fair detail.
The all on plotting and unusual subject matter make the Guardship a promising opening to the Brethren of the Coast series. Picking up a copy of The Guardship will give you an enjoyable and informative read.
Kingfisher Splashes in 1 week
Ellen Macarthur's Open 60 Kingfisher will be launched in Auckland New Zealand next week. Lady Pippa Blake will officiate as Kingfisher splashes the day before the 30th America's Cup Match begins.
Photo Courtesy of: Kingfisher Challenges