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4.6 out of 5 stars14
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 24 November 2000
Definitely one of my favourite books of all time. It describes the life of the lowly seafarer throughout four hundred years of maritime history. The character Matthew Lawe is cursed to live indefinitely and destined to spend his time plying the only living he knows. Matthew finds his way on to many famous historical voyages. He sails with James Cook and Henry Morgan amongst others and through his experiences the author provides a brilliant insight into the living conditions on such voyages. By allowing the book to be fictional it becomes possible to add so much more detail than could be included in a work of non-fiction and it does so without seriously compromising historical accuracy. For anyone interested in maritime history and adventure, fact or fiction I would recommend this book.
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on 27 October 2005
... and the book I voted for in the Big Read.

First, a warning: I believe Monsarrat took so long to write the first volume of this book that he was afraid he'd die before he finished his mighty saga. As if to prove his prescience, chapter 1 of the second volume was barely finished (and the rest of the chapters mere 'sketches') by the time Nicholas Monsarrat received the mariner's last call. But don't let that put you off reading this. You can still catch the flavour of volume 2 in this edition.

Running Proud

The tale of the Master Mariner begins with young Matthew Lawe serving as one of Drake's coxswains. Ordered to captain a fire-ship dispatched to break up the Spanish Armada, he loses his nerve and fires the ship too early. As the ship burns about him, and his crewmen too, one of them curses him: "Do you want to live forever, Matthew Lawe?" Although Lawe escapes with his hide intact (captured by a passing spaniard) he finds he is doomed to wander the Earth like some early Flying Dutchman, forever betraying the trust of those around him, aging only five or ten years a century. It is by this 'artistic device' of slow aging that Monsarrat enables his hero to experience the breadth and richness of British naval history - from its growing strength with searches for the North West passage, piracy under Henry Morgan (more than a little grim - these are real pirates after all) and as an admiralty clerk with Peyps, to its heyday with the voyages of Cook and Nelson, and finally its decline in the 20th C, as seen from the sketches in vol. 2. In every time period Matthew Lawe has the opportunity to lay down his own life to save a fellow - and in every one he turns aside, flawed, still cursed, living on.

Will he ever escape his doom? And if so, how? The only way you'll find out is if you read to the end of the second volume - Darken Ship.

The writing of this book was a huge undertaking, and it shows in the detail and scope. If you have a love of the sea I suspect you'll love this book. And if like me you don't, then perhaps you'll find the world it conjures even more wondrous.
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on 14 June 2012
I read around 80- 100 books every year..every year "The Master Mariner .Running Proud " is one of them. Oaf , opportunist , scoundrel , hero , coward ..which is Matthew Lawe ? It's up to the reader to decide. I think we can all find parts of ourselves in Matthew. Do you pity him, or cheer him on? I would wager that both are correct. He will make you proud,and he will disappoint you in equal shares. Matthew is always just inches from greatness,does something inside him refuse to go that final inch ,or is he doomed to be merely a witness to history ? I don't want to give anything away..only to entice you to read this incredible story.The amount of research(written at a time before the internet) that must have gone into this novel is simply staggering ..You won't regret it.
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on 25 December 2011
Bought this book out of pure nostalgia, quite some time when I last read it. The story is the last book which Nicholas Monsarrat wrote unfortunately he died before it was finished. Nicholas was the author of the famous book The Cruel Sea which was made into the film by the same name.
The book was delivered on time in very good condition and will go into my collection. It seems such a shame that execellent stories such as this must go out of print. I suppose it is progress and room must be made for new aspiring authors but it is pleasing to note that some dealers are involved in preserving our heritage and in this case making a good job of it.
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on 13 August 2011
I found this to be a real page turner and couldn't put it down. The cental character is well developed and takes the reader on some ripping adventures.
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on 15 May 2011
Excellent!! Required reading for all students of maritime history. Read this book more years ago than I care to remember and well worth a second look.
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on 9 March 2015
Had to read this for book group otherwise would not have chosen it. however it is very well researched and very well written.
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on 21 March 2012
My parents we are very please with the condition and price of this book. Thank you very much for the purchase.
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on 28 April 2015
Some of Nicholas Monsarrat's work can be boring, but this, like the Cruel Sea, is entertaining reading.
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on 6 July 2015
great book bought to replace my first copy that has worn out
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