Reading Fletcher's Fortune is like seeing the most gloriously-British drama-comedy-bawdy satire unfold before your mind's eye! From the first page I was gripped, reading at breakneck pace through this gloriously-told, highly-cinematic story by this remarkable author. Comedy co-mingles with drama and suspense as the reader is drawn, page by meticulously-written page, through this tale that will appeal to all lovers of novels set in eighteenth-century England as well as fans of Patrick O'Brien's great naval series. For those who want a chuckle, echoes of Swift and Smollett are there to be found in Drake's prose, leaving the reader delighted and tickled throughout the tale. Any Anglophile worth their salt will not be able to put down this book for more than the split-second it will take you to say just one of the gloriously pithy Georgian curse words ("whoreson") you will find in John Drake's masterpiece. You will laugh, you will tremble, you will think about these characters for years to come. If only Amazon gave me more stars, I would have turned every last one to gold for this book.
John Drake’s “Fletcher’s Fortune” is a rip-roaring tale of the savagery and corruption of British Naval impressment at the end of the eighteenth century and of Jacob Fletcher, one of its young victims, unfairly “pressed into the Navy,” a reluctant sailor made and hardened aboard a British Naval privateer.
We first meet the inhabitants of Coignwood Hall, (giving nothing away): the captivating Lady Sarah Coignwood and her husband, Mr. Coignwood, having just shot his older son, Master Alexander Coignwood, “in the uniform of a Naval officer,” after having witnessed him “playing ‘bedroom backgammon’ with his own [younger] brother!”
From there, “Fletcher’s Fortune” plays out as a “coming of age” adventure, mostly told in “Fletcher’s own speech,” aboard the British warship, Phiandra, under the command of the possibly reckless but nonetheless fearless Captain Bollington, in possession of “a special commission . . . to cruise the French coast, at his discretion, to wreck havoc upon the enemy’s trade,” and who with his commission and duty-bound crew is the perfect embodiment of the private adventurer.
And what an adventure it is! Plots unfold on land and on sea, bargains made, duplicity and deadly treacheries emerge, fights ensue, knives and cutlasses strike, crises arise, friendships form, oceans swell, loyalties struggle, ships clash, cannonades fire, sea battles roar, pistols and cannon blaze, timbers break, deaths mount, and mysteries resolve in a fast-paced, straight-ahead narrative, unburdened by subtlety of complex character development or superfluous descriptions of place. Remember to settle into a comfortable spot before you start reading; you won’t stir for quite a while.
My only regret: that “Fletcher’s Fortune” is not yet an audiobook. When it is, I’ll buy it again and have the added pleasure of listening to it, salty language and all!
For more rip-roaring tales of sea-faring adventures, this time of pirates made and hardened, you should check out John Drake’s earlier “Treasure Island” trilogy: “Flint and Silver,” “Pieces of Eight,” and “Skull and Bones.”
When I started this book it seemed to start like Dewey Lambdin's Alan Lawrie story. A young man Shanghaied into the Royal Navy so others can get money that he was to inherit. But there are differences between the two Lawrie is a midshipman where Fletcher is a common seaman. What I liked most about this book covered several things. The first was the narrative style that has two storylines; the efforts to get Fletcher his fortune and how Fletcher becomes a part of a ship's company. The light style of the story. Finally the sea battle as seen by someone, who has never been to sea. Fletcher is an amusing story to join the ranks of the stories of the Age of Sail.
Fletcher is an apprentice, supposedly exempt from the press gangs, but circumstances and plotting beyond his control soon drive him to fight for his life as one injustice after another is forced upon him. He has no idea that he has become one of the wealthiest young men in England, inheriting a vast fortune. Nor does he know that his stepmother and her two very evil sons are behind the murder and extortion attempts which are designed to get rid of him and any claim he might have to this huge estate. An entertaining and engrossing first book in what promises to be an incredible series with plenty of subplots and well worth the time.
Very, very well done sea-adventure novel. Thankfully I was not overwhelmed with nautical terms. Just enough of these that a Landsman such as I could easily follow the action. For a synopsis of the book, please read the publishers description, I'm just here to tell anyone interested about a damn good book. Some twist's, conspiracy, mean Villains, Diabolical relatives, sea battles, cannoner actions, sword play, pistol play, etc. Has it all and exactly what you may want in a swashbuckler. I read this authors Flint and Silver trilogy last summer and loved every page of it. When I saw these books by Mr. Drake I jumped at the chance.
This is a great naval fiction story told entirely by a pressed sailor on the lower deck. This is also a mystery and suspense story of a disinherited family trying to eliminate any competition for their wealth! There's great everyday life glimpses and exciting frigate actions. The suspense builds to murderous confrontations. Best of all, this is only the first book in a series! As soon as I catch my breath I'll start the next one!
Fletcher seems some kind of character out of a Dickens' plot... plus a bit of Cornwell's Sharpe... plus a bit of John Jakes' trilogy about North and South... and the the behaviour of the villain family is a little exaggerated... just spreading around arson and murder as easy as ABC