Quest is the story of the fourth of Henry Hudson’s voyages to try to discover the Northwest Passage to India, which took place in 1610. However, those left at home play as prominent a part as Hudson and his 17-year-old son, John, who accompanied him on the voyage. The novel is composed of sections focused on four characters: John Hudson; Richard Hudson, his younger brother who was left at home with their mother in London; Isabella Digges, whose father is partially financing Hudson’s voyage of exploration; and Seth Syms, a young man who has taken his cousin’s place as a seaman on the Discovery to avoid a duel with an outraged husband in England. The Discovery makes it safely across the ocean, but trouble soon sets in as the weather gets colder: Henry Hudson is obsessed with finding a route to India and ignores the need to return home. Seth had no idea what life would be like at sea, but strikes up a friendship with John, and finds a measure of peace that his rough life in London did not afford him. Isabella is having quite an adventure—spying for England in a Dutch household rich in maps—maps giving information that England does not possess.
The sections of three of the characters are written in the first person, making them very vivid and also quite distinct. Young Richard’s sections are equally engaging, though written in the third person. Using the multiple narrator technique adds richness to the novel. There is an illuminating author’s note that indicates what is true. It also provides information on what happened to several of the characters in later life. Highly recommended. Ages 10-14.