1584, Santander. Twenty-year-old Harry Carey, younger son of the autocratic Earl of Aubigny, is serving on board his father’s merchant ship. The Spanish are making excuses to keep the Dragon from sailing, but why? If the ship is impounded, the earl will be furious. Harry thinks that his father still sees him as a child and he is determined to prove his worth. He is a natural leader; his Spanish is excellent and he is skilled with both pistol and rapier.
Furthermore, he’s good at tactics and can keep his head in a crisis. We follow him as he rescues the Dragon and then comes the big test. His father has just built a magnificent galleon, the Hawk, expressly designed to plunder Spanish ships returning from Brazil full of expensive goods, and Harry wants to sail on her.
And that isn’t all. There’s a plot afoot to kill Queen Elizabeth and put the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne, and Harry finds himself in the thick of it.
The Hawk is a rattling good adventure story with never a dull moment. There are cowardly attacks against our hero, treacherous plots where Harry proves his mettle, and some splendid sea battles, enhanced by yells of: ‘Haul home the foremast!’ and, ‘Let go the sheets and tacks!’ I’ve only the foggiest idea what they mean but no matter – it all adds to the heart-pumping pace. And I love Gareth Floyd’s lively atmospheric illustrations of ships engaging in battle and men riding furiously.
Boys (and girls) of eight plus who enjoy rip-roaring adventures should enjoy The Hawk, and they’ll learn a lot, too, about life in Elizabethan London, conditions on board a galleon, and about the murky politics of an age where the queen was considered fair game for the assassin’s bullet.
(Ed. note: To purchase this edition, see the publisher’s site rather than Amazon.)