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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


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Books for Adults - Fiction

Cover Art: Master of the Sweet
        Trade
Master of the Sweet Trade: A Story of the Pirate Samuel Bellamy, Mariah Hallett, and the Whydah
By Elizabeth Moisan
iUniverse, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4401-5893-3, $19.95

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On 26 April 1717, a nor’easter struck Cape Cod as Samuel Bellamy returned home aboard the captured slaver, Whydah. Legend says he was returning to his true love, Mariah Hallett, but he never made it, for the ship sank along with Sam and most of his men. Moisan combines legend with fact to craft a tale of star-crossed love between Sam and Mariah.

Not suited to the family business of making rope in England, Sam yearns for the adventurous life of a seaman. When an opportunity presents itself, he takes it and eventually his travels take him to Cape Cod where a distant relative lives. Sam spends many evenings in the local tavern, which is also a front for smuggling. One day he meets Mariah, a girl who, like himself, doesn’t fit in, and the two fall in love. When news of the sinking of a Spanish treasure galleon reaches New England, Sam convinces a number of men to sail south with him to get that gold. He promises to return for Mariah one day soon.

Although unaware that rumors of her being bewitched have surrounded her since birth, Mariah has a way with injured animals and weaving that set her apart from others. As she stands on the beach watching Sam’s ship disappear from sight, she has withheld a secret from him – she is pregnant with their child. When her father discovers this, he tells her she will spend the rest of her life as a servant with a distant aunt, but Mariah sneaks away and finds shelter with the owners of the tavern where Sam spent much of his time. After her son’s birth, she makes the mistake of going home, which ends not only in the death of her son, but also accusations of murder and witchcraft against Mariah. No longer caring, she accepts the court’s punishment – banishment to Lucifer’s Land, a stretch of coastline where she watches every day for Sam’s return.

Moisan deftly combines the known facts with plausible fiction that is riveting to read. She whisks readers back in time to Cape Cod and the Caribbean, but the scenes on the cape are where the reader experiences the brutality of New England winters and the grip of religious hysteria amidst a few brave souls willing to remain friends with someone who’s different. Although not quite as compelling, the scenes in the Caribbean that involve Sam and his friends are accurately portrayed and provide readers with a firsthand look into the lives and activities of pirates, including those of Henry Jennings, Benjamin Hornigold, and Olivier “La Buse” Levasseur. The inclusion of an epilogue and appendix complete the story of Sam Bellamy and provide insights into the facts behind the fiction. She also provides suggestions of places to visit and includes a glossary, mostly of nautical jargon, that will aid the reader in further understanding this enthralling pirate tale.


Review Copyrighted ©2010 Cindy Vallar



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