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by John Masefield
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From Publishers Weekly
Best known perhaps for his poem "Sea-Fever" ("I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,/ And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by"), Masefield (1878-1967) produced this rattling yarn in 1911. The tale of a 12-year-old boy who falls in with smugglers could trace its lineage back to the swashbuckling stories of Robert Louis Stevenson and may find its modern-day offspring in such works as Iain Lawrence's High Seas trilogy. Jim, an orphan, is sent to live with relatives along the Devon coast. There he accidentally witnesses the deeds of a troop of night-riders, or smugglers, and becomes caught up in their shadowy, dangerous world of excise men, sea caves and illicit cargo. Forced to sign on for a voyage ("You've got to become one of us, so as if you give us away you'll be in the same boat," explains Marah Gorsuch, a mesmerizing, larger-than-life night-rider who might be friend or foe), Jim faces hurdle after hurdle. From a skirmish with a British frigate to a nightmarish chase on horseback to run-ins with soldiers and gypsies, the plot stays rip-roaring, and the atmospheric prose ("the strange moan of the snow-wind") supplies a polished, literary veneer. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5-8. Originally published in 1911, this is an old-fashioned adventure story set in England in the early nineteenth century. On a snowy night, 12-year-old Jim Davis stumbles across a group of nightriders who are delivering contraband goods to the interior of the country. He meets one of the smugglers, enters the bandits' hidden cave, and is captured and forced to join two of their expeditions. Furious battles ensue, and Jim becomes a fugitive until finally returning home. Masefield was England's poet laureate, and his prose has a poet's grace and attention to detail. The language, however, doesn't get in the way of the rip-roaring plot, which taps into the rich vein of classic sea stories, such as Treasure Island. A glossary in the back explains the many obscure nautical terms. Todd Morning
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
I was born in the year 1800, in the town of Newnham-on-Severn, in Gloucestershire. I am sure of the year, because my father always told me that I was born at the end of the century, in the year that they began to build the great house.
I could think of nothing except the words: "I am a murderer." A wild wish came to me to run to the cliffs by Black Pool to see whether the bodies lay on the grass in the place where I had seen them (full of life) only a few hours before. Anything was better than that uncertainty. In one moment a hope would surge up in me that the men would not be dead; but perhaps only gagged and bound: so that I could free them. In the next there would be a feeling of despair, that the men lay there, dead through my fault, killed by Marah's orders, and flung among the gorse for the crows and gulls.
Card catalog description
Jim Davis is a twelve-year-old boy whose life takes a terrifying turn when he stumbles upon a ring of bloodthirsty pirates.
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