The author's energetic prose saves this from being merely a tired tale retold. The ""Grudge Fight"" was a disciplined match used by the Royal Navy's Wartime Training Establishment to keep their young apprentices in line. But to fifteen-year-old Pike, the fight against Brooks ""is the trial he has to survive."" It's Pike's story. He joined the Navy to vindicate his father who had committed suicide after a court-martial, and the events leading up to the fight vaguely parallel his father's trials. Both had suffered from a sense of alienation: Pike's cut off because of his correct manner and ""la-di-da voice."" He unwittingly antagonizes his mates and in particular, Brooks...feisty...a leader...a boy's boy. There are many round and ready scenes of both petty and vicious cruelties that are effective but the climax is marred by a coincidental bombing (this takes place during the war). And the story's attempt at realism is further jarred by the fact that the old salt who is secretly training Pike for the fight is the same seaman who had once saved his father's life. Still, absorbing enough strictly because of the action.