Sunday, April 03, 2011

11.07 The Guineaman by Richard Woodman

The Guineaman (2000) by Richard Woodman
Severn House Publishers

Following quickly upon the heels of reading the exciting Bolithio book I picked up this seafaring novel from the library. The Guineaman was very different tale in many way but an equally interesting read about the mid eighteenth century.

William Kite, the hero of this series is the feckless son of a town apothecarist. One dark and stormy night he is forced to flee the scene of a horrible crime and heads to the coast where he joins a slaving ship, a guineaman. I was well prepared after having read a similar book previously for the wide scope of these books but this one really went for the James Michener style sweeping saga.

Kite joins the ship as a "surgeon" and has to deal with yellow fever among the crew and the terrible conditions among the slaves chained below decks. He takes the moral high road by abhorring the treatment of the slaves especially the rapes of the women by the captain and crew. Strangely though, he ends up falling in love with one of the slave girls and ends up taking her and leaving the ship in the West Indies. The story takes another bunch of arcs with Kite becoming a wealthy merchant, ships captain, trader. He eventually heads back to England with his black bride to attempt to clear his name and start a new life.

As an adventure story there were parts of the book that satisfied but way too much stuff was going on. Kite seemingly lurched from one major set piece to anotherand typically came out of it smelling like roses. The book was well written but this was not a character that I thnik I will pursue much further.

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