Gwyn Griffin's most ambitious book to date is also his most likely to succeed, and, while there are many points of recognition with By The North Gate, Something of an Achievement (the telltale stigmata of disappointment and defeat, the nasty distinctions of race and class, of xenophobic prejudice, in those he characterizes), this book reaches an unprecedented-power in its lashing sequences of violence at sea. The vessel is the San Roque, making the run from Naples to Australia, where many aboard her are looking for a new life. And its Chief Officer is Serafino Ciccolanti, too young for the post, rather bitterly resigned to the improvident family he must support, his insignificant beginnings, and the maimed foot with which he limps through life. Aboard her are a rather scruffy lot: a stateless countess whose era ended in 1914; an Ex-Navy officer, Lannfrane, ""prematurely"" retired; a Colonel hagridden by his sister and his poor showing during the war; a schoolmistress avid for young men; etc., etc..as well as a belligerent group of British and Italian migrants below. There are many unfortunate incidents to follow, which Serafino must handle after the Captain's unnecessary death places him in command. But it is not until the ship hits a cyclone that he is really challenged by more than the storm; Lannfranc tries to assume command; some of the passengers leave inevitably to their death- in the lifeboats; and Serafino, at first sullenly, submissively, then with passionate dedication, brings his ship into port....A strong, sometimes brutal, often brilliant book, with an unquestionable excitement. Publisher promotion should help.