Anthony Knivet is the illegitimate son of Sir Henry Knivet who barely recognises the boy’s existence. Anthony is working for his mother, a baker, but Sir Henry arranges for him to join a nautical expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Anthony dreams of riches and glory and the opportunity to prove himself worthy of inheriting from his father, however, things do not go well. The Roebuck is wrecked and Anthony finds himself abandoned on a beach in Brazil. He is captured by the Portuguese and forced to work on their sugar plantations.
This is the prelude to some fantastic adventures in which Anthony escapes death on at least three occasions, all of which come from the published memoirs of the real Knivet, and have been woven by the author into a well written, fast paced tale.
There were some things that spoiled the overall package, however. The title refers to the ship Knivet sails away on, but it disappears quite early in the tale and bears no other relevance to the story. The premise of the title also indicates a seafaring story, which this novel is not.
The author has used quotes from Knivet’s memoirs for some chapter headings, but the script style font is difficult to read, especially as original spellings have been used. A less elaborate font would be more suitable perhaps? Footnotes in a novel often detract from the narrative, especially when most of them, in this case, could easily have been incorporated into text or as an author’s note. The conclusion was sudden, somewhat inconclusive but there is no indication of a sequel.
Incongruously, there is a description of how to make Comfrey Pie at the end? Interesting, but why?
If these flaws could be tidied this would be a jewel of a novel!