Veteran author of numerous military novels, McCutchan launches a nautical series starring apprentice seaman Tom Chatto. ``Fresh from the West of Ireland,'' 16-year-old Tom comes to England and is apprenticed to the commercial barque Pass of Drumochter, one of the few sailing ships left in the mid-1890s. Adjusting to the rigorous shipboard routine, the innocent lad receives his schooling from a colorful cast of characters: the sexagenarian Captain Landon and his beautiful, much younger wife; Mr. Patience, the irascible First Mate who has designs on the lady; Jim Wales, the stout-hearted head apprentice and Tom's mentor; the snobbish Mainprice, youngest of the apprentices; and Chardonnet, a mysterious stowaway. McCutchan effectively and economically limns bustling Liverpool, the daunting mission of beating around the Horn and Victorian England's rigid caste system. Despite its sometimes excessive jargon--``eased off the lee sheet, clewed the yard down and then hauled up on the lee clewline and the bunt''--this spankingly paced novel augurs well for Tom's further voyages. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995 Release date: 04/01/1995 Genre: Fiction
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