Raider of the Scottish Coast
I really enjoyed reading Raiders of the Scottish Coast by Marc Liebman. The story is of the coming of age of two young men: one in the Royal Navy of England, and one in the fledgling Navy of the United States. It takes place during the early days of the Revolutionary War, in the sailing ships of the time. Jaco is a southerner who begins by sailing on his father’s merchant ships, and then becomes an officer in the Continental Navy. Darren has always loved the sea and sailing; and joins as a Midshipmen in the Royal Navy. Both love to learn, love to improvise, and want to excel at seamanship. Both rise through the ranks, becoming a captain in Jaco’s case and a second-in-command in Darren’s case. Both have good mentors and bad captains to deal with. Each survives by a combination of honesty, courage, leadership, and luck.
The author’s writing style, especially in the battle scenes between ships, made me feel like I was aboard, shifting sails for the least bit of advantage, bringing my cannons to bear, training my crews to fire faster and more accurately at the enemy, and thinking, always learning, and plotting how to make the most of my ship.
There are many references to sails, rigging, masts, cannon, shot, powder, arms, watches, sails, lumber, and a myriad of other items important to the age of sail. The author details just the right amount of information without bogging down the story with minutiae. The references keep the story informative, and helped to move the story along exceeding fast at the correct time.
What makes this book so delightful is the balance the author manages with the several factors of this genre. These are young men, growing into manhood, and though there is a bit of romance, it is not a focus of their young lives. There is death and destruction; his protagonists accept that fact and move on, as it is part of the life they have chosen. There are bad commanders and injustice from men and circumstances; they deal with it and move on. There are mercies and friendships; they enjoy them and move on. Never does the author let his protagonists stall or wallow in any of it. This is a story of extraordinary boys becoming iron men on wooden ships.
Finally, it is a delight to read of men not burdened with doubt, who dedicate themselves to that which they believe in and strive to excel at the tasks they have set themselves.
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