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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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Cover Art: Peter Raven under Fire
Peter Raven under Fire
By Michael Molloy
Scholastic, 2007, ISBN 978-0-439-72457-9, US $8.99, CAN $10.99

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Living his dream, Midshipman Peter Raven steps aboard the Dolphin, a first-rate ship of the line in the British Royal Navy. Life, however, often has twists and turns no one expects, which is no less true for Peter. He meets a stranger wearing the uniform of a commodore, yet the first time Peter saw Commodore Beaumont, he was a colonel in the Marines. Peterís training and Beaumontís need for an assistant with such skills leads Peter into the murky waters of espionage while still carrying on his naval duties. The two collide during a bloody battle with a French naval vessel, and Peter is badly wounded.

After a lengthy recovery while HMS Dolphin undergoes repairs, Peter eventually rejoins his mates and sets sail for the Caribbean. A burning vessel on the horizon lures them into danger. The unassuming captives aboard the ship arenít what they seem, and Peter comes to regret the day he helped bring them aboard the Dolphin. An unexpected savior rescues Peter before itís too late, and as he drifts on the ocean in search of land, he vows to exact revenge on the demented Count Vallon and his pirates.

In America, Lucy Cosgrove, a pretty heiress, despises the restraints imposed on her by society. She runs away from school and goes to live with her grandfather. Her aunt decides itís time to take Lucy to Paris, and once there, Lucy becomes a favorite of Napoleon after a demonstration of her sharpshooting skills. Commodore Beaumont is captivated by her, but so is Napoleonís newest cohort, Count Vallon, whose vast wealth will finance Napoleonís scheme to capture America.

Beaumont, with the assistance of Peter and others, must thwart these plans. What none of them realize is just how dangerous and demented Vallon is, and to what lengths he will go to achieve a new wife and become king of his own realm.

Although written for middle readers and young adults, Peter Raven under Fire is a rousing maritime adventure for any age. The 502 pages flew past so fast I found myself wishing Peterís tale would never end. The book is well researched and the historical details are seamlessly woven into the story. I sailed into battle with Peter. I hid in a closet with him as he spied on Napoleon and Vallon. Not once was I left on the sidelines. The well-drawn characters become friends and enemies, just as they do for Peter. Nothing is sugar-coated. The adventures are realistic and danger is always evident. If I have any hesitancy about this book, it concerns the creepiness of Count Vallon and his sister. Neither are people I would ever want to cross paths with. They might even be more evil than LíOlonnais, a real pirate, ever was.


Book Review Copyright ©2008 Cindy Vallar

 
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