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Publisher's Summary

London: 1793. Young firebrand John Pearce, on the run from the authorities, is illegally press-ganged from the Pelican tavern into brutal life aboard HMS Brilliant, a frigate on her way to war. In the first few days, Pearce discovers the Navy is a world in which he can prosper. And he is not alone; he is drawn to a group of men who eventually form an exclusive gun crew, the Pelicans, with Pearce their elected leader. During an action-packed two weeks, as HMS Brilliant chases a French privateer across the English Channel, these disparate men form friendships that will last a lifetime.
©2004 David Donachie (P)2007 Soundings
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Jeffrey on 08-07-13

Might not be what you think

This isn't an action series. The sea battle aspect of this series is not the focus. Rather, this series is a work of historical interest which illuminates the life of the times and the politics of the times. If history interests you, then you are in the right place. If you want sea battles and dashing heroes, you best look elsewhere.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 11-01-14

Historical Novel 1793 Royal Navy

Donachie is a new author for me and this is book one in his series about the Royal Navy in 1793. The protagonist is John Pearce, who is press ganged into the Navy. He is placed on HMS Brilliant, a frigate on its way to war against the French. John forms friendships with a group of fellow press-ganged landlubbers. They form a gang called “The Pelican’s” with the aim to look out after each other. They are pressed enlisted men so are the lowest of the low aboard the ship. John shines as he uses his natural skills to help in whatever situation they are in and is a natural leader.

As the first book in a series I expected there would be more time spent on character building and back story. Donachie cleverly weaves these fictional characters into a true historical situation. There is action, the book bogs down at times but most often it is well paced. The book ends in a cliffhanger and sets up for book two. The story shows the harder side of the life of a gang press man at sea. The story is compelling and kept my attention. Peter Wickham does a good job narrating the story.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Phil on 01-26-11


It's hard to assess this book. I knew it would be well read as I've previously bought a couple of Kate Ellis audiobooks and enjoyed Peter Wickham's narration. By The Mast Divided is clearly well researched with painstaking attention to detail. The problem I found is that the descriptions of activities and the development of the characters are done so thoroughly that it takes most of the pace out of the story. Almost all of part one - just over seven hours of listening - is over and all we've done is get the main characters pressed into naval service and leaving English shores. I feel a bit of a misery criticising the book because the quality of the writing is very good. However, I found myself 'tuning out' for a few minutes, then paying attention again and finding I hadn't missed much! On the basis of this, I much prefer Bernard Cornwell to David Donachie when we're fighting the French and the officer classes!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Steen on 04-17-17

Like Dudley Pope and Ellis K. Meacham

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If your like navy novels from the Naboleon time and if your liked Dudley Pope and Ellis K. Meacham you will like this serie.

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