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Powder Monkey (Adventures of Sam Witchall) [Hardcover]

Paul Dowswell
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Oct 2005 Adventures of Sam Witchall
Sam is desperate to leave his sleepy Norfolk village and see the world. He seizes the chance to join a merchant ship but soon discovers that a life at sea is harsh and often short, especially when his ship is attacked by a French privateer. About to be boarded, they fear all is lost, but the privateers are driven off by the appearance of a Royal Navy ship. Sam's relief is short-lived. Soon after, another Navy ship sends over a press gang, and he is forced to join the frigate Miranda. War with France and Spain is raging and Sam is caught in the middle with a dangerous job as a powder monkey in the company of a brutal crew. An amazingly well-researched adventure giving a glimpse of one boy's incredible life at sea.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition edition (3 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747577048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747577041
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 952,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Filled with action, warfare and drama, a cocktail of adventure which thrill-seeking readers will undoubtedly appreciate' -- Big Issue

`Detailed and gritty ... One for the boys'
-- Daily Telegraph

`More vivid than a Patrick O'Brian novel ... all children worth their salt will read on to the end' -- The Independent

`Thrilling tale, exceptionally well written and affecting' -- The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


`More vivid than a Patrick O'Brian novel ... all children worth their salt will read on to the end' --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me enthralled right to the end! 22 Nov 2005
By Deborah
I am a very picky reader and it takes me a while to find a book I like, but this one is really excellent and I am so glad that I found it! I hope there's a sequel, I love books in a series, (I am always disapointed when they end!). I think that anyone of any age could read this book. I have recomended it to all my friends and I have a list of people who want to borrow it. It is well written and there is anough factual infomation to keep the older generation happy, (I know a lot more about the Navy than I did before I read this book!). I would advise you to read it, I just couldn't put it down!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chain-shot 14 Oct 2005
By A Customer
This is the second best book I've ever read - second to Antony Horowitz. This book grips you with unexpected turns. I'd recommend to anyone interested at all in history. It describes life on a Royal Navy ship; with such detail, you can imagine being there. My Dad bought it for me because he is a Jack Aubrey fan (Master & Commander). I thought it wouldn't be that good because I'm not interested in that stuff myself - but this book changed my mind in a big way!
Sam, aged 10
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Navy Larks 30 Aug 2007
Well hurrah for Paul Dowswell and extra rum all round! As a boy I was introduced to the nautical novels of the peerless Alexander Kent; Dowswell is his worthy heir. The hero, Sam Witchall, narrates his adventures as he embarks upon a grim life as a British naval rating. The action is fast-paced, the author's knowledge of the era shines through the prose and as a reader I was definitely left wanting more. Fortunately, Dowswell has followed this up with the equally impressive 'Prison Ship', just released in paperback. Unfortunately, the third in the series is said to be the last; I think there is a lot more mileage in young Witchall yet though...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS BOOK NOW IT IS GREAT 10 Oct 2005
I was overwhelmed by the sheer excitment pouring off the pages of this adventure story. The characters are great, the plot line is unsinkable and the battle scenes are breath-taking. If you are a fan of adventure and gripping tales that keep you reading late into the night then this is the book for you.
The characters are all fantastic and you can see how much the writer has enjoyed writing this book. H ebetter hurry up and write the sequel otherwise I might explode with excitement.
if you don't buy this book then you are missing out on a wonderful experience that everyone can enjoy
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powder Monkey is Fantastic 10 Oct 2005
By A Customer
This book is a wonderful read for children of all ages. the characters are wonderful and by the end of the book you are really involved with their adventures.
Some of the fighting scenes are so exciting and wild that you almost can't read on for fear of what might happen.
This book has to be one of the best childrens books to have come out in a long time, it has great characters, nail-biting plots and terrifying battles. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in pirates, the old navy or history in general it is a fantastic read and must be bought immediatley without delay.
I will be keeping an eye out for the many awards it will soon be gathering around it.
I can't wait for the next one!!!!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rollicking read! 10 April 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Powder Monkey is a great read, combining the story of Sam Witchell and his adventures at sea and his friendships against the description of the historical setting and the ship's layout. The sea battles are excitingly told and give a sense of what must have been the often gruesome reality of life for a young boy at sea. The ending is a sure invitation to reading the next book to find out what happens to Sam next. It appeals to a wide age range - my 10 year old niece loved it and I'm a well over 40 something who loved it too - a good bit of escapism, that you could lose yourself in; we're both about to read the sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yo ho ho! 10 Mar 2010
I bought this a few years ago and 'rediscovered' it... A thoroughly entertaining read. The book is beautifully presented in the hardback edition - when removing the dustcover the book hard cover is printed and of quality. The inside front and back covers have worthy illustrations too. The story itself is set in the 19th century - a massively important time in English maritime history. Dowswell brings alive the story of Sam Witchall - young lad looking for adventure on the open seas. His first post on a merchant ship is fine before he is press ganged onto the war ship 'Miranda' where the story kicks up a gear.

An enjoyable, descriptive style that thrusts you into this young man's world. The beauty of the writing is that it works if you are a young adult or adult alike. I have purchased the follow up novel to this (yet to be read) and it is nestled within my book pile 'to read'.

A sea-salty recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever for 10 year old 8 Dec 2008
By H.Bee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My 10 year old son read this as it was recommended by a friend. He was enthralled, said its the best book he's read (he reads all the time). It is the only book I know of that has made him cry, it has a sad ending. I think he empathised with Sam Witchall which made the story more vivid. Its a historical story of life on a ship and he asked and learnt a lot about this as well. Brilliant read for young and older readers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars More accessible that Patrick O'Brien
Having attempted Patrick O'Brien multiple times, I was incredibly pleased to discover Powder Monkey. Read more
Published 10 months ago by bmbower
2.0 out of 5 stars not an informed writer
This book did absolutely nothing for me, maybe a schoolboy who is not well versed in Naval Fiction would enjoy it
Published 14 months ago by obxtony
5.0 out of 5 stars great, a well written thriller
This book is amazing I have read a lot of Dowswell work and this is probably my favourite book of his, you build a connection with the characters and you can feel the fear of being... Read more
Published 17 months ago by alex
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT!
My daughter (age 10) couldn't put this book or the others in the series (Prison Ship, Battle Fleet) down. She was completely hooked. Read more
Published 21 months ago by E. Edwards
3.0 out of 5 stars A little better suited to a younger audience.
The Adventures of Sam Witchall series are entertaining to a degree, well written it's true but lacking something for the more mature audience. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Brazen Charter
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money
Good read, historically accurate, will progress to other titles in the series, recommended if you enjoy historical maritime novels etc.
Published on 14 Sep 2009 by B. J. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
this book i read in spain on holiday and could not wait to get back and see if there was any other books to follow up the story .yes two others and just as good. Read more
Published on 9 July 2009 by R. Tompsett
3.0 out of 5 stars An easy reading Tale
This is a strange book to describe, It is a very easy read in fact i read it in one day! sometimes it can be informative with it's descriptions of navy life, and other times it... Read more
Published on 6 Mar 2007 by Mr. P. J. Arnell
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping!
When I started reading the book I couldn't put it down. It iis the best book I have ever read
Published on 4 Nov 2006 by Dan Turner
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