Brewer’s Revenge

Written by James Keffer
Review by Valerie Adolph

Commander William Brewer is reveling in his first opportunity to captain a ship. To be sure, the HMS Revenge is a smaller ship than he had hoped for, but he is both excited and nervous to be taking on the challenge of captaining one of His Majesty’s ships. HMS Revenge has been won from the pirate Jean Lafitte in battle. She has been re-fitted with 20 guns and is stationed in the Caribbean in the early 19th century. Her crew’s purpose is to seek out pirates and “blow them out of the water.”

Captain Brewer has faced pirates before, and he is seeking personal revenge. He does his best to captain his ship as effectively as experienced captains like Admiral Horatio Hornblower. Brewer had been Hornblower’s aide on St Helena during Napoleon’s imprisonment. His knowledge of Napoleon enables him to establish valuable friendships with captains of the French fleet who are also in the Caribbean trying to rid it of pirates.

On the Revenge, though, Brewer is facing problems. The ship’s doctor is drinking heavily. One of the seamen is a malcontent, making trouble. A seaman falls to his (or her) death from the rigging, and the captain feels responsible. And then, of course, he faces the battles with pirates.

This novel about pirate hunting in the time of George IV moves along swiftly and surely through the mixing and mingling of several national interests and their all-encompassing motivator: greed. It presents a clear view of the complexities of both the responsibilities of command and of the politics of naval life. The author gives his readers an in-depth view of life aboard a sailing ship and of strategies for outwitting pirates. It’s an interesting read for anyone who finds stories of ships and the men who sail them intriguing.