The Galleon (Carey Novels)
1583. Young Robert Penderyn is the penniless nephew of a sour miserly uncle. When he kills a man in a duel forced upon him, his uncle hastily shoves him aboard a merchant ship sailing for Santander and makes it clear that Robert is now on his own.
England and Spain are at loggerheads and Robert must learn seamanship – fast. His courage will be tested to the utmost as he copes with sea battles, capture by the Spanish, and being caught up in foiling a treasonous plot to rescue Mary, Queen of Scots, from captivity and place her on the English throne.
The Galleon opens with Robert, just down from Cambridge University, being waylaid by two highwaymen intent on robbery and murder. A tremendous fight follows and, from then on, the pace never lets up. Robert may feel unsure of himself, but the readers can see that he is also brave and resourceful. Furthermore, we learn that one of his university friends taught him swordsmanship, and another how to spot a card-cheat, qualities he will need as he foils dastardly Spaniards, escapes from prison via precipitous castle walls, and generally swash-buckles his way through all his enemies can throw at him.
Ronald Welch knows just what boys enjoy – there are no useless characters, like parents or girls, to impede his hero’s adventurous progress. I particularly liked the section on board the merchant ship which gives an excellent view of 16th century sailing: the cramped quarters, the stench of the bilges, the hard, dangerous work of hauling up the sails, fighting at sea and so on.
Beautifully reprinted from the original 1971 edition and enhanced by Victor Ambrus’s original lively and historically accurate drawings, this is a book to treasure. Boys of 10 plus – and girls, too, should enjoy this rip-roaring tale. (Ed. Note: To purchase this edition, see publisher’s site rather than Amazon.)