4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2013
Having enjoyed the Trials of Sarah Newby I was interested in finding out about any other books written by Tim Vicary. It was obvious he could write well...The genre of Nobody's Slave could not be further from the Inns of Court but from page one I was hooked! Here was one of the best writing talents I had enjoyed for many years!
Tim Vicary has the rare talent to make you see and feel the scenes from each page. I was able to see and hear the waves and witness first hand how it felt to be aboard an English sailing ship in the 16th century. The characters were as real as if I had met them and most important, the story was as exciting, enthralling and page-turning as any great read...not for the feint hearted but a brilliant story to enjoy in one sitting or look forward to with relish when forced to put it down.
Here was a story with historical fact threaded through it and weaved into a tapestry of action and adventure...not to be missed!
Two young boys, living separate lives meet through fate and begin the journey to manhood many miles from their friends and family.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2013
I really enjoyed this fictional account of survival and friendship between Tom (a young English sailor) and Madu (a young black slave) set amidst the back drop of Francis Drake's third voyage to obtain slaves from Africa to sell to the Spaniards.
I feel that I have an affinity with Francis Drake as I originally hail from Plymouth in South Devon and, before his retirement from the Royal Navy, my late father was based at HMS Drake in Devonport and my wedding reception was held there too. However, after reading this novel and Tim's blog post Queen Elizabeth's Slave Trader my illusions about Francis Drake have been slightly shattered, though Tim does remind us that Drake was a man of his time and should not be judged too harshly.
Many of the events depicted in Nobody's Slave actually happened, and I liked the way that we were shown the aspirations of Madu before his captivity, the manhood test required by his tribe and his desire to be accepted by his stern step father. We see Madu as a human being with hopes and dreams and not as a commodity to be bought and sold.
Madu and Tom's destinies become intertwined and their friendship, which begins on rocky ground, strengthens as fate reverses their fortunes. This is a coming of age story for Madu and Tom, as well as a nautical adventure story, and a bit of a history lesson too.
The narration is straight forward and easy to read though (my only criticism) there were some scenes which would have benefited from more descriptive writing to portray the intensity of the action taking place instead of keeping all the narration on an even keel. But, overall, it was an enjoyable read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2013
I'm going to start of my review of Tim Vicary's historical fiction novel Nobody's Slave in an unusual manner with a quote of Tim's final sentence in his author's notes:
"Nobody has a monopoly of virtue."
These six words sum up the theme, based on true historical events, of Nobody's Slave.
Madu is a the son of a Sumba tribe member, captured as a slave by the Mani tribe. His mother was pregnant when she was captured and bore Madu, fathered by a Sumba. Madu has always felt an outcast with the Mani tribe members and never felt he met the high standards of his harsh stepfather, Nwoye, who is embarrassed this child is not of his blood.
Madu and his best friend, Temba, have nearly completed their manhood training. Boys that partner for their manhood training often became loyal friends for life and stand by each other. They capture a leopard, part of the ritual, and are triumphantly carrying it back to the village.
Madu hopes Nwoye will show a sign of approval, but is apprehensive as they trapped their leopard in a rather unorthodox and danger manner. Madu desperately wants to be accepted at the Festival of the New Warriors. His fate, otherwise, is that of a social outcast and lowly farmer.
Madu and Temba arrive at the village with their prize but drums beat insistently in the jungle. They warn of war with the Sumba and each village is to gather in haste at the nearest Mani town, Conga, for safety and to mount a defence against an army that has already captured five Mani villages.
Tom Oakley, is a seaman aboard the ancient Jesus of Lubeck, one of Queen Elizabeth's navy, under command of the ship's Master, Robert Barrett. Tom is a young boy, devoid of fear, in search of excitement and adventures. Dangers exhilarate him. The Jesus of Lubeck weathers an ferocious storm, but not without damage.
Cloth, purchased for trade, is used to plug holes in the hull. Francis Drake, Tom's cousin, is the Master's mate and supervises the improvised repairs. Also aboard is Robert Hawkins, a courtier, admiral and merchant-adventurer, who persuaded the Queen to loan him the Jesus of Lubeck. They survive to continue on to their destination, Guinea, Africa.
The Mani fortify Conga as best they can in the limited time they are afforded before battle commences. It is here Madu first learns the fate of the villages conquered by the Sumba: slaughter, cannibalism, slavery to the Sumba tribe or sold to the red-face, who keep captives in their great canoes and eat them.
The crew of the Jesus of Lubeck hope to fill their hold with African slaves, partially to make up for the loss of cloth but, mostly, to make a handsome profit. Thomas tells his cousin Simon:
"You don't want to worry about they Africans, Si. They're not like us. They're savages - they don't feel like we do. Black ivory, that's all."
Tom doesn't give much thought for the Africans, other than to muse:
"...he would not like to lie there, chained the stuffy darkness, unable to see outside or even stand up without bending; but then he was not a slave, nor likely to be."
He laughs in remembrance of the Africans' fear and how their skin shined "like polish ebony when it was wet..." Tom is not much of a introspective thinker.
The plan is sell a cargo hold full of African people to the Spaniards, who Tom and the crew hold in great disregard because of their Catholic faith, but their coin is welcome. The Mani and crew collaborate, each for their own purpose.
The manhunt is successful, for the most part, but Tom looses his cousin, Simon, to warriors in the first skirmish. The Sumba in Conga are vanquished. Madu is captive, his friend, Temba, and stepfather dead. He will never know the fate of his mother and sisters. His greatest fear is the red-face mean to eat him.
As often happens in life, best-laid plans go astray and dismissive words return to haunt. Such is the story of Nobody's Slave. Fate decrees Madu and Tom's worlds collide, separate and collide again. Both young boys are forced to confront their hatred of each other and their foe's nationality daily. Both will be in the complete power of the other at one point. Both will betray the other.
Nobody's Slave conveys a myriad of human cruelty into 255 pages. It also illustrates the human capacity to forgive, if not forget, past transgressions. Tim's prose is action-packed, yet descriptive of the suffering of unfortunate human beings and the propensities of those who hold ultimate power over the helpless. Beliefs and superstitions of the day are given validity.
Tim has a knack for delving into the minds of his characters and bringing out the worst and best in them. He doesn't shy away from the basest of emotions, but also demonstrates no person is completely evil whatever their deeds.
Nobody's Slave is thought-provoking. The reader is given insight into man's darkest motives and fears. No nation is exempt from exploitation for its own benefit and somehow justifying those actions.
MY RATING: 4/5*
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2014
It was interesting - and shaming - to know that this book was based on real events, with
some real characters, including a young Francis Drake. I loved the cover too.
A fleet of English ships sail to Africa to capture slaves to sell in South America to the Spanish.
The story is told alternately from the point of view of a young lad, Tom, on the ship and a black boy
caught as a slave. Tom can see nothing wrong in slavery as "they are just like cattle ..... they don't have
feelings like we do." and "it is only trade after all"! Such was the shameful attitude then, even of the
Queen (Elizabeth) who profited from the proceeds.
Things do not always go the way the English would like and there were twists in the story that I
didn't see coming. People are betrayed by all the nationalities involved in the story.
Apart from a few missing words which didn't detract from the story, I really enjoyed reading this
book and recommend it. Not quite up to the early Wilbur Smith books set in that time - but getting
there! I give it 4.5 stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 July 2013
Madu and his friend, Temba, have gone into the jungle to catch a leopard. Madu has a plan which will let him catch the beast without sacrificing his goat. Right now it is the most important thing in his life.
Tom Oakley, a nephew of Francis Drake, is on his first voyage. The ship is bound for Africa to pick up slaves.
Soon these two will meet and both their lives will be changed forever.
This is a very exciting and moving tale about the early slave trade. The story is fiction but the history is real. These are brutal times and human life is cheap. The action moves from Africa to South America where a twist of fortune turns the tables on the boys, making Madu the leader.
Tim Vicary's clear and fluent style is, as always, a delight to read and his research is impeccable. The world he presents is utterly believable, his characters live and breathe.
An emotional roller-coaster of a book.