The first book in the Sparrowhawk series of historical novels, introducing readers to life in eighteenth-century England, where rumblings of discontent amongst the citizens with government and Crown begin. Jack Frake is no exception to this endemic restlessness. From an early age, Jack Frake develops an independent mind and spirit, traits that are not openly welcomed by all for someone of his lowly class. Fate and circumstance lead him to join a band of smugglers and he faithfully furthers their cause. Jack eventually departs for the American colonies aboard the Sparrowhawk, destined for Virginia. He sets out to rescue his friend from the constable's jail, but instead of saving his friend, he finds his own life in danger.
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As a young British man, considering leaving England for America, to join the fight to restore America to a Constitutional Republic, one which holds individual rights (and its corollaries - private property, free trade, etc) as sacrosanct, this book spoke to me.
It is a mirror of England as it is at the moment: a corrupt Government, levying greater taxes and more stringent regulations, for the privilege of a shrinking minority and a tyranny over the majority.
This book is both historically accurate, philosophically profound and inspiring. It gave me a sense of pride for England, as a place where the ideas of the American Revolution began to ferment. It also gave me a great respect for its history too, and made me want to learn more.
A fantastic piece of work.
I don't like giving spoilers in a review so forgive me if this is at a high level. The author's sense of detail and language is phenomenal. He is able to paint pictures with his words that have a life-like brilliance which illuminates the characters of the novel. There are strong lessons to be learned in this book about the meaning of freedom and liberty (explored in greater detail in book 2)and how it pertains to the slice of time represented in the book. Jack has a spark of life to him that is fanned by Skelly and Redmagne and helps him to become the man I hope he is in later books. As a side note, I cast Billy Connelly as Redmagne and Sean Bean as Skelly. What a great combination!
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