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5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent ending to a great trilogy, 14 Mar. 2010
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fire Down Below (Sea Trilogy) (Paperback)
After reading (and immensely enjoying) first 'Rites of Passage (Sea Trilogy)' and then 'Close Quarters (Sea Trilogy)' I eagerly began this third and final part of William Golding's Sea trilogy. The nameless ship of the two first novels is still on its way to the Antipodes, and things are looking ever bleaker. With a wrecked mast (courtesy of the drunk lieutenant Deverel) the ship is unable to make much speed, its rotten timbers are slowly falling apart so the ship is making more and more water, and food and water are getting scarce. In this wooden world, an emblem surely of society in general, most passengers are slowly letting go of the rules and regulations they once held so dearly, and façades begin to drop.

Edmund Talbot, our protagonist and narrator, is still very much in love with Miss Chumley (whom he met in 'Close Quarters') but, as she is aboard the Alcyone bound for India, he can only write her ardent love letters. Meanwhile, his friend 1st Lieutenant Summers is becoming more and more isolated as Lieutenant Benét gains the captain's confidence. Summers opposes the repairs Benét proposes to do to the ship's damaged foremast as they involve the use of 'fire down below', but Captain Anderson overrules him (with tragic consequences, but I'll not spoil the fun for you by giving away exactly how).

Once again, I found this a wonderfully charming and thought-provoking book, with a unique mixture of tragedy and farce, a host of unforgettable characters, and all of it written down in a language so rich and colourful it is truly a pleasure to read, and sheer agony to see the end ever drawing nearer. What Edmund Talbot himself says about his voyage might very well be said about reading this book: 'What ramifications it had, what effects on the mind, the nature, what excitement, what sad learning, what casual tragedies and painful comedies in our rendering old hulk!'.

The Sea trilogy is one of the best books I have read in a very long while, and will surely read again! I cannot recommend it heartily enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fire Down Below - William Golding, 25 Oct. 2014
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
A great novel on it's own, and a perfect end to a wonderful trilogy of books. Each one of the novels in this series is one of those books when, reading it, you just know you're reading something special. The rich language is wonderful, a pleasure from paragraph to paragraph. The seafaring detail, the striking images in the prose, provide absolute credence to this as a purported 19th century seafaring diary. Things stand out in this volumes: the tension of the voyage, of the relationship between Summers and Benet, the touching bond between Summers and Talbot. Golding uses the canvas to tell a story that mirrors the developments of the society and history of the time (conflicts between social philosophies, religion, class, technological and scientific advancements, the role of women, etc etc etc). The ending is wonderful. I'd love to have more of these to read - completely, utterly recommended.
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Fire Down Below (Sea Trilogy)
Fire Down Below (Sea Trilogy) by William Golding (Paperback - 7 Aug. 2000)
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