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By David Donachie

London 1793: younger firebrand John Pearce is illegally pressganged from the shelter of the Pelican tavern to a brutal lifestyles aboard HMS outstanding, a frigate on its approach to struggle. within the first few days Pearce discovers the army is a global during which he can prosper. yet he's not on my own; he's interested in a bunch of guys - fly Charlie Taverner; quiet Ben Walker; drained outdated Abel Scrivens; the bairn of the gang, Rufus Dommet; the droll, tricky Irish laborer, Michael O'Hagan; and the bumptious Gherson - pressed males like him, who finally shape an specific gun team, the Pelicans, with Pearce their elected chief. in the course of an action-packed weeks, as HMS significant chases a French privateer around the English Channel, this disparate staff of fellows shape friendships that would final a life-time. David Donachie cleverly weaves those fictional characters into actual historic events to supply a compelling and totally soaking up introductory novel.

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Pearce's assailant got a boot on the shins for his trouble, and as he bent, Pearce laid a blow on his tarred hat that cracked it wide open. That lever, when he held it out, kept the other pair, who had now dropped O'Hagan, from getting close, as, with no alternative, Pearce backed towards the door. "You might as well pack it in, mate, " one of the sailors said, with a slight and worrying grin. " "Give in easy, " the other one added. He was also smiling, and Pearce thought it strange that there was no malice in his look, no desire to inflict pain.

It was best to stay still, take a look then react. Not that he was calm; he could feel the pounding of his own heart, and the tremor at the extremities of his body, a reaction to this sudden explosion of aggression and what he could conjure up in his imagination might be the outcome. But Pearce could also see and hear with a heightened clarity, and that helped him to spot a possible route of escape. The main entrance was no use; near the front door, fists were flying, as those too close for a quick retreat fought with what was clearly a press-gang.

The noise of the tavern faded to a buzz and the odd shout. Now fully warm, Pearce opened his coat, feeling the weight of his eyelids. Rosie came and went with his food and spiced wine, and took his money, extracted from a purse he took care to re-bury in a deep inside pocket. Pressing his nose to the top of the tankard, he breathed in the heady odours of cinnamon and arrack. Staring into the smoky room as he sipped the alcohol, he chewed his food and silently prayed that those who had pursued him throughout this long day had given up the chase, at least for tonight.

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