By the Mast Divided – John Pearce Book 1

By the Mast Divided is the first action book in the John Pearce series by author David Donachie. The content of the book is about London in 1793, the young fire force John Pearce, is on the run from the authorities. Pearce was illegally brought from the Pelican tavern by the press to a brutal life aboard HMS Brilliant, a frigate en route to war. Within the first few days, Pearce discovered that the Navy was a world in which he could thrive. And he’s not alone; He is attracted to a group of men who eventually form an exclusive gun team of the Pelicans, with Pearce as their elected leader. During the two weeks of action, HMS Brilliant chased a French privateer across the English Channel. These disparate men have formed friendships that will last a lifetime.

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01- John Pearce the son of a political agitator is a wanted man. His flight arrived at the Liberty of Savoy, the part of London in the Principality of Lancaster, and was cleared of entry by law enforcement. It happened on the Thames and Captain Ralph Barclay decided that leading an illegal press gang was a small price to pay for the warm bodies to pull ropes on his frigate. Pearce and his friends get caught up and find themselves impressed by the law. Captain Barclay soon discovered that having a gentleman, an egalitarian society, on his ship caused much unrest. And as the man was a born political radical, born and bred perfectly capable of inciting a crowd, the sailors of Barclay’s HMS Brilliant began to adopt a new way of seeing life. living.

This is an interesting novel with no obvious resemblance to O’Brien, Forrester, Pope, Kent. Pearce was a stubborn and impulsive young man who was knocked down by Thomas Paine and the spirit of the French Revolution was delightful. Donnachie knows his stuff when it comes to the Royal Navy of the Napoleonic era.

02- This is a naval fiction book of this period written from the officer’s point of view. A fearsome captain and a slightly ‘step-son’ hero in the protagonist makes for an odd scenario and some aspects of the story don’t fit comfortably into naval life at the time.

Pierce was on a secret mission for his ailing father to London when he was forced into the navy along with some locals. Pierce is soon pointed out by the captain as a troublemaker, finds himself attracted to Captain Emily’s young wife, and ends up becoming the default leader of his motley band. Will Pierce escape the navy and save his father or will he just be another sailor lost at sea?

This novel is much fascinating. Pierce is an entertaining character that I can easily recognize. The narrator does an excellent job with the highlights, making each character special and interesting.

03- There is no heroic officer in the story of a British frigate during the Napoleonic Wars. Evil feeders and a ship’s boy add to the cruelty on board as a team of “lubbers” struggle to survive. The captain’s unrelenting devotion was in his treatment of newly pressed men. Their plight seemed to be resolved until a final act of betrayal from the captain.

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