Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices & Young Adults
At fifteen, Nathan Fox has led a most interesting and diverse life. Not only is he an actor in the same theatre company as William Shakespeare, but he’s also an agent in Sir Francis Walsingham’s Secret Service. Nor has he lived in a more fearful time. It’s 1588 and King Philip of Spain has vowed to send his great Armada against England. All of England is abuzz with rumors of the approaching invasion fleet, and everyone must defend queen and country to the bitter end. There is one chance to thwart Spain, but Walsingham has been unable to unlock the secret code that will reveal the identities of the Spanish agents who have infiltrated Queen Elizabeth’s court. Only one man, the astrologer who devised the code, can identify these infiltrators, but he has lost his mind after dabbling in alchemy and sorcery. It’s up to Nathan, his sister Marie, his partner John Pearce, an ex-soldier and expert swordsman, and Walsingham’s best cryptographer to unravel the code before it’s too late. To that end Nathan and the others sail to western Ireland where the pirate O’Malley may protect them from prying eyes and add the final touches in Nathan’s training before he and John embark on a dangerous assignment that could brand them as either traitors to the queen or English spies facing a Spanish executioner.
Aside from Grace O’Malley, readers meet several other people from history as Brittney skillfully brings to life the likes of Sir Francis Drake, Francis Walsingham, and Richard Bingham. Her fictional characters are equally well drawn and the humor and drama she weaves into her story’s tapestry compel readers to emotionally respond to what’s happening. She also provides vivid glimpses into the fear permeating England, the dangers of war and seafaring in the sixteenth century, and the deplorable conditions aboard the Spanish ships. While portions of the second part of Nathan’s mission seem slightly less plausible, she contrives these scenes with the same aplomb as the others, which lends them an air of credibility that a less-gifted writer would have difficulty achieving.
Seas of Blood is the third entry in the Nathan Fox series. Previous titles are Dangerous Times and Traitor’s Gold, but readers need not have read those stories to enjoy and understand this one. For those who want to know more about the history behind this tale, Iris Books also offers a companion book, Elizabethan World of Nathan Fox: Fact Book Three, which includes articles on Irish pirates, Grace O’Malley, English Sea Dogs, and much more.
The intended audience of this series is pirate apprentices – teens and young adults in landlubber speak – but this thrilling adventure rich in historical details will also appeal to older pirates. As Nathan himself thinks, “A mad magician; a secret code book; Ireland and pirates – who could want for more?” (33)
Review Copyrighted ©2018 Cindy Vallar
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