Gather the Shadowmen (the Lords of the Ocean): A Story Based Upon the True Exploits of Captain Luke Ryan, Irish Swashbuckler and American Patriot - Be Paperback – Aug 1 2011
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About the Author
The author has dabbled in soldiering, business and the law searching, as we all must, for his rightful place in this world. He currently resides in the United States.
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Author: Mark M. McMillin
Publisher: Hephaestus Publishing
In the late eighteenth century, the United States of America went to war against England to become a separate entity. War was fought on land and sea. In Mark M. McMillin's trilogy, "Gather the Shadowmen - The Lords of the Ocean," this first in the series novel takes place at the beginning of the American Revolution.
This two hundred and ninety-eight page paperback tome has a silhouette of a captain at the helm of a ship. The story is geared to teens and adults who are not only interested in the American Revolution at sea, but describes in detail the way of life for seamen, smugglers, prisoners, and privateers during the time period. Due to profanity and sexual innuendos and scenes, as written, it would be "R" rated at the movies. There are intentional misspellings, following the language of the era. Many punctuation commas throughout the book are omitted in conversations, causing some reading concerns. At the end, the book includes an informative, interesting chapter on fact verses fiction.
The epic novel is based on Captain Luke Ryan's true adventures as an Irish sailor, a smuggler on the high seas between England, France and Ireland and an American commissioned privateer. The story starts as a tale being told in a New England bar in the late seventeen hundreds, yet the person telling the story is not mentioned again until the tale is concluded at the ending of this book.
In this first of three books, Captain Luke Ryan is a Lieutenant on a British frigate in the North Atlantic who helps capture a French ship and is chosen to escort the seized boat back to England. Once he befriends the French captain, Ryan has ulterior motives and releases the boat to the French instead of returning it to England. He enters the smuggling business and refines a mostly Irish company of sailors who are called "The Shadowmen" that are loyal, dedicated and personable. After acquiring a very fast boat, the crew and boat are captured and imprisoned by Great Britain. Ryan and others sneak the men out of jail, steal back their beloved ship and flee to France to arrange asking Benjamin Franklin to commission them as privateers. Along the way, Ryan falls in love with a partner's daughter in his smuggling trade.
This book is a very interesting read as it sets up the history of the American Revolution based from an overseas standpoint, describing nautical terms along with varied ammunition used and charming Irish camaraderie in a wonderful, detailed fashion. Although the reader is left hanging at the end, the next book is well anticipated to find out what happens next to the Shadowmen of the "Black Prince."
Irishman Luke Ryan is a patriot I'd never heard of before Mark McMillin's exciting series of historical novels inspired by Ryan's exploits. Each of the three volumes stands on it's own but addresses a different phase of Ryan's seafaring career; they can be enjoyed in or out of sequence, but I enjoyed reading them in sequence. Each also includes a section at the back of each volume: "Separating Fact from Fiction" that helps the reader appreciate the excellent story-telling of the author that brings his characters, their interests, motivations, and personalities to life.
McMillin takes tidbits from the scant history of the real Luke Ryan to craft a compelling and engaging tale of adventures on the high seas. Woven within the tale are elements of naval warfare tactics; political intrigues and deceptions between England, France, and America as the rebellion of the colonies became a revolutionary struggle for human Liberty. The author entertainingly brings to life the economic realities that frequently motivate and direct the conduct and outcome of wars more than military or naval combat.
In the first volume, Gather the Shadowmen, we are introduced to the 25 year old Ryan and the core of his Irish crew. McMillin's tale begins in 1778 with Ryan's profitable smuggling of contraband between France and Ireland until he was caught by the British, the first of four times he was imprisoned and sentenced to be executed for piracy.
In the second volume, Prince of the Atlantic, it's 1779, the American war of Independence is going badly, and Ryan takes advantage of (America's Ambassador to France) Ben Franklin's need for privateers to wreak havoc on British shipping and capture British crews to be exchanged for American seamen imprisoned in England. With a privateer's charter, Ryan and his crew, if captured, must be treated as prisoners of war rather than being summarily hanged as pirates. In fact, Ryan and his crew wrought more havoc on British shipping than any other privateer. Eventually fielding three ships, Ryan's privateers captured or destroyed 114 enemy vessels: one in 7 of all captured in the entire war period!
The British designated as many as 40 frigates to hunt Ryan whose exploits tripled British maritime insurance rates; not only severely restricted commerce; embarrassed British maritime authorities; and brought the high cost of the war with America home to the British people. McMillin fleshes-out these heroic exploits in a fast-paced and entertaining manner as Ryan transitions from a smuggler for profit to a true believer in the American war of Independence.
In the third volume, Napoleon's Gold, McMillin crafts another page-turner as Ryan and his crew confronts the vicissitudes of a collapsing French monarchy and the rise of Napoleon as both privateers and as smugglers.
While each volume stands on it's own, I got and read all three in sequence and finished the third wishing for a fourth. McMillin obviously has a great knowledge of, and passion for the 18th Century sailing ships; the intrigues and motivations of decision makers in England, France, and America during the Revolution; and has researched the historical records in all three related to the impact of privateers on the outcome of the war.
I'm glad to learn about Captain Luke Ryan and the key role he played in the American Revolution. McMillin has brought Ryan and his crew to life and described 18th Century life on the sea and on land; from the lowest wharf-rat to French nobility; from traders to traitors in a fast-paced, entertaining, and yet educational manner.