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Heave-ho and up she rises!
on 10 March 2013
Much of the detail of this book is taken from the records of various people who sailed with Francis Drake on the Pelican, and the Elizabeth with a total of 164 men on the second circumnavigation of the world from 1577 to 1580. The story is told from the point of view of Perry James, a young man taken on as a ship's cook after he catches the eye of Sir Francis in Plymouth, where he is about to be whipped as a thief. As his only real crime is to have fallen in love with his master's daughter, Perry is something of an innocent, but he soon learns the seamanship needed to survive and makes friends, and enemies, among the other seamen. At various points of the story he proves he is trustworthy, but he is also often a pawn, used by other men to further their own designs.
The business of sailing is depicted with a sense of the drama of the sea, a precarious business, but there are incidents on land just as full of danger and excitement. Again and again Perry performs beyond the call of duty, but he is often naïve and prone to mistakes of judgement. There is a continuation of the story promised; to be titled 'Desperate Bankrupts'.
I was a little disappointed with the characterisation, particularly when Perry was blamed for matters of which he could only be innocent. The characterisation of Drake was disconcertingly inconsistent - all too ready to mistrust the boy who again and again proved himself true, only to be dismissed on the slimmest of evidence. It seems with all his efforts to prove himself as an adherent to Drake's cause, and with all the evidence of his faithfulness, the dice are cruelly cast against him.