An intricately plotted novel of naval exploits along the Atlantic coast on the eve of the American Revolutionary War.
The novel follows two aristocrat brothers, Ian and Jack Hollister, who’ve traveled from England to oversee their father’s business interests in Boston. En route, they’re shipwrecked off the coast of Maine; the brothers and some of the crew make it to shore, where they’re eventually rescued by a group of American pirates led by the irascible Maire Balch. Although the brothers are treated cautiously at first, the pirates soon take to them and introduce them to the revolutionary ideas afoot in the colonies. When Ian and Jack are briefly separated, the Royal Navy kidnaps a number of the pirates, Ian among them, and conscripts them into service—tasking Jack and the others with rescuing them and fighting the British. It’s a rollicking tale, complete with sea battles, budding love affairs, familial infighting and even brief appearances by the patriots George Washington and Nathan Hale. Modlin (Chasing Wings, 2008) also does a good job at differentiating Jack’s and Ian’s characters: Ian, the older of the two, remains steadfast in his support of the crown, even after being forced into labor for the navy, while Jack is more passionate, taking to heart the goals of the colonists in declaring their freedom. Too often, though, the novel handicaps its story with serious pacing issues; characters frequently sound like mere mouthpieces for political ideas, and the earlier naval scenes, in particular, contain an excessive number of nautical terms. The novel’s conclusion also isn’t nearly as dramatic as it might have been, given the ideological differences that grow between the brothers over the course of the story.
A competent, if occasionally unsteady, historical narrative, likely to please those who love stories of naval battles.