To Ends of the Earth

Michael Talbot, Author Alfred A. Knopf $18.95 (519p) ISBN 978-0-394-53376-6
Historical novels of such fiery vigor and flesh-and-blood authenticity as this first volume, in what is promised as a huge Australian saga, are a rarity. The year is 1785. A group of condemned criminals, lying in chains in London's Newgate jail, are saved from the gallows at the last moment and thrust into the holds of half-rotted naval ships bound, as only the captain of the convoy knows, for Australia. The fastidious, prickly and courageous Captain Phillip must transport his explosive human cargo to the new land in a desperate race against the French, equally intent on colonizing the Pacific, and risk a course through perilous southern seas to win it. Among the most memorable characters in a story that seethes with action are wily Joe Cribb, veteran and psychological victim of the American War of Independence; indomitable Kitty Brandon, one-time actress, court favorite and mistress of General Burgoyne, now a convicted murderer; a naive but determined chaplain; and quack doctor Abe Levi, a shrewd and experience-toughened Polish Jew. They tumble through a dramatic narrative in which fact and fiction fuse in totally credible fashion. Talbot, an Australian, has previously written thrillers under a pseudonym. (June 2)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1986
Release date: 05/01/1986
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