Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Chapter Review: At Drake's Command by David Wesley Hill

This is a First Chapter Review of At Drake's Command by David Wesley Hill. It will be published in trade paperback by Temurlone Press in November, 2012 and can be pre-ordered on their website. It has been submitted by the author for my consideration.

BLURB: It was as fine a day to be whipped as any he'd ever seen but the good weather didn't make Peregrine James any happier with the situation he was in. Unfairly convicted of a crime he had not committed, the young cook was strung from the whipping post on the Plymouth quay side when he caught the eye of Francis Drake and managed to convince the charismatic sea captain to accept him among his crew.

Soon England was receding in their wake and Perry was serving an unsavory collection of sea dogs as the small fleet of fragile wood ships sailed across the brine. Their destination was secret, known to Drake alone. Few sailors believed the public avowal that the expedition was headed for Alexandria to trade in currants. Some men suspected Drake planned a raid across Panama to attack the Spanish in the Pacific.

Others were sure the real plan was to round the Cape of Storms to break the Portuguese monopoly of the spice trade. The only thing Perry knew for certain was that they were bound for danger and that he must live by his wits if he were to survive serving at Drake's command.

COVER: Superb. The scene is breathtaking and appropriate for this novel. I love the color scheme.

FIRST CHAPTER: The novel opens with fictional character Peregrine "Perry" James being led through the streets of Plymouth, England in manacles. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he will face the whipping post on a cold November day.

Knowing there is no future for him in Plymouth, he asks Francis Drake, captain of the Pelican if he might have a place for him on his ship. Drake is uncertain if he should take the boy along, but when fellow captain Thomas Doughty attests to Perry's skill as a cook, Drake agrees depending upon how Perry stands up to the whipping.

KEEP READING: Definitely. In the Historical Preface, the author lays out the Drake circumnavigation in 1577 and the written accounts he used as a foundation for his novel. There is mention of John Winter, captain of the Elizabeth, and his concise account of the expedition. Our family has gone aboard the Elizabeth II, a representative sailing ship at the Roanoke Island Festival Park in North Carolina multiple times, so I was immediately drawn to this story.

Hill fills this first chapter with historical details, providing the reader with a complete knowledge of the world in which Perry lives. Whether you have read other novels set during this time period or not, you will easily be able to visialize Perry as he is driven through the streets of Plymouth tied to the end of the parish beadle's cart and everything he witnesses and experiences.

The reader is treated to several wonderful characters--some historical, others fictional--in this opening chapter. Beadle Hal Audley, Sam Goodman, a cordwainer, Beth Winston, who does her best to see that Perry is treated with kindness, Constable Felix, who is determined to see justice is carried out, Drake and Doughty. Whether a main character or a secondary character, Hill has given the reader excellent first impressions of them all.

Finally, the ending of this chapter is outstanding. It will definitely encourage the reader to turn the page.

This is a time period I enjoy, so I would add this book to my wish list.

The author submitted the first chapter of this novel for my consideration. This First Chapter Review contains my honest opinions, for which I received no monetary compensation.

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