Lord Hunter travels on the Arctic Tern with a message of peace from Queen Elizabeth of England to the King of Spain. When they arrive, they discover that the king is under the influence of Lord Morgan, an evil man who wants only power and riches. Years ago, Morgan tricked Bruno, Lord Hunter’s captain, and now is trying to thwart Bruno’s plans to do good.
Bruno is compelled to sail on until he has done enough good to make up for a moment of weakness long ago which doomed his people. He and his friends save the king but when they leave Spain, having made peace, Morgan chases them, and they face a climactic sea battle just off Plymouth.
Unusually, this book is written in verse, simple and rhythmic, and obviously best read aloud. The overall presentation is very attractive: the edition I read was hardbound with coarse paper, giving the impression of age. The illustrations by Nick Poullis complement it very well. Although the story is simple and should appeal to children from quite a young age, some of the vocabulary might need explanation, at least at first, which could break the flow of the story quite a bit.
This is an adventure story bound up with one man’s redemption, and another’s damnation. Bruno was a simple islander long, long ago and betrayed his people for some jewels. The shades of his dead friends carried on ghostly ships, told him that to prove his remorse he would have to save a life, rescue someone betrayed, and give great wealth away. This book is the story of his quest. Likewise, Mad Dog Morgan, the one who tricked him years ago, is still out to thwart him now.
Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London. He is also the editor of the Good-to-Read website.