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The Adventures of Hector Lynch

by Tim Severin

      Young Hector Lynch and his sister Elizabeth are snatched one night from their home in an Irish village by Barbary corsairs. Separated en route to the slave market in Algiers, Hector vows he will find and rescue his sister one day. But it is merely the beginning of a series of extraordinary adventures for him, which will see him befriended by a pragmatic Native American called Dan, "turning Turk," serving on a galley and working for a larger-than-life Moroccan despot.

If you think that this sort of rip-roaring adventure died with George MacDonald Fraser, or that nautical yarns had to be set during the Napoleonic wars you are in for a pleasant surprise. Hector’s escapades barely allow him to pause for breath, as he veers from captivity to a favored position, from abject misery as a slave to luxury and from one colorful character to another. This is an author who really knows how to write this type of thing, always ensuring that he leaps lightly from a grim situation to something better thus keeping the tone reasonably upbeat. The characters are appealing too, from historical people like the re-named Irish corsair Murat Reis and the monstrous Emperor Moulay Ismail, to the fanatical Chevalier Adrien Chabrillan and the fair-minded Turgut Reis. This is not a book that features many women, but as it is portraying environments where there wouldn’t have been many in evidence then this does not spoil the story. To have inserted some for the sake of form would have however and Severin wisely avoids this. Another thing this author avoids are several cliché situations involving showdowns between characters - at times this made me sigh with relief that he had picked a path less trodden, but at others I wished for the scenes that might have ensued. If you want an exciting read then I can heartily recommend this one.

The Book

Macmillan UK
4 January 2008
0330443135 / 978-0330443135
Historical / Adventure / 1677 / Algiers and Morocco
More at UK
NOTE: Not yet available on Amazon US site
Some violence

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008