Raider of the Scottish Coast
The bar was set incredibly high for Age of Sail books when Patrick O’Brian created Jack Aubrey and wrote his incomplete twenty-book series that began with Master and Commander, and ended with the author’s unfortunate passing; much as J. R. R. Tolkien set the standard and foundation for the epic fantasy genre, so O’Brian did the same for the Age of Sail genre. There are few authors that take on the challenge to pen an Age of Sail novel and series: you’ve got to get the history right (depending on the time period your series is set in), as well as the many details of these great ships and how the crews do their job, and then have interesting characters and a compelling story. It’s a tall order to be sure, but Marc Liebman does that job and does it very well in this first book of the Jaco Jacinto series, Raiders of the Scottish Coast.
O’Brian’s long series took on the Napoleonic war, while Liebman dives into another familiar and eventful time period: the American revolution; the year is 1775. What makes this story so fun is that we have two main characters on opposite sides, both teenagers: Jaco Jacinto and Darren Smythe. Both are young and relatively new to ships on the high seas. Jacinto is from Charleston, South Carolina, serving as a midshipman in the American navy, looking to forge a new nation. Smythe, from Gosport, England, is also a midshipman, is looking to succeed in the British navy, as the empire is taking on rebellious colonials in the west, as well their old enemy in the east, the French. We get to see both sides of this growing war, as these two climb the ranks and experience naval battle in its many forms. The reader is taken for the far north, frigid coasts of Nova Scotia and Scotland, to the much warmer, balmier climes of Nassau and the Bahamas.
It’s not easy to balance providing details on sailing and the operation of a square-rigger while pushing your plot along, and making sure to provide the historical context; nevertheless, Liebman does a wonderful job with it. The reader comes across a new term or action being carried out, and before they can ask what the word means or what’s going on, the author is there explaining it in as much detail as is necessary to understand, and then the scene continues with the reader now fully understanding what is going on. But it never feels awkward or forced; it all reads in a natural flow that keeps the story going and doesn’t lose the reader. Liebman shows he clearly knows what he’s talking about, and also has a captivating story to tell. Readers will be hooked to the end and eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
|Page Count||458 pages|
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