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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on May 23, 2002
A premonition - and suddenly the comfortable world of Marlowe is turned on its head.
King James, the freed slave, slaughters the crew of a slave ship in a fit of passion, and to save face and reputation, Marlowe has to run him down and bring him to justice. Meanwhile, his sworn enemy is intent on destroying all that Marlowe holds dear ...
This sets the scene for another gripping tale in the same vein as 'The Guardship' - the same flowing prose and command of language endows this book with the mark of a master storyteller coming into his stride. Many threads, at sea and at home, combine to make this a thrilling, un-put-downable period story.
As the tale unfolds, we are taken into the minds of the protagonists, taking a glimpse behind the facade that each one has created, seeing the tale from several different perspectives, each with its own ideals and agenda, making us more and more involved in this wonderful complex story.
Even better than 'The Guardship' - and that's saying something. *****
Look out for 'The Pirate Round', book 3 in the series.
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on March 27, 2002
Nelson is developing his talents as an author of historical fiction. It's good to see a writer who actually improves as he goes along.
Indicative of this improvement is the amount of historical detail given in this book, the second in the Brethren of the Coast series. Largely about the slave trade, The Blackbirder reveals the depth of the author's research into African cultures of the period.
Ex-pirate Marlowe should by rights be a fascinating character, but he lacks depth -- not merely because he's a rather shallow person, which he is, but because Nelson hasn't developed him sufficiently. He has a certain blank quality. James, the other main character here, is better drawn, but still not quite exemplary. Secondary characters, such as Marlowe's wife and her rakish ally Billy, aren't bad, but aren't fantastic either -- I'd say overall that characterization is a bit of a weakness here, though not disastrously so.
The plot, as one expects with Nelson, is an exciting one -- I don't find the themes here as interesting as his battles-at-sea books, but other readers may well prefer them. I did find my suspension of disbelief faltering at one point, when a psychotic racist tries to imprison Marlowe's freed workers: either they're free, and he would have to have a warrant, or they're slaves, and he's stealing property, and either way, that element didn't quite work for me. Overall, though, the story is fast-paced, enjoyable and holds the reader's attention well.
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on March 29, 2004
(...). I have been reading the Horatio Hornblower Series and other books from this era. This book was different in that it dealt with other topics (i.e. slave trade, racism, sexism, etc.) in the context of the Napoleonic era. I thought that the characters were interesting, but I could not help thinking I would have enjoyed Blackbirder more had I read the first book in the series beforehand. Marlowe is a great character, but I think that the author did not spend enough time letting us get to know him in Blackbirder. The plot of this book was really interesting...I consider myself a "plot sniffer", but I did not have this one figured out until Nelson revealed it. Nice I wish I could find the first and third book of the series in the bargain area (doubtful).
I am very excited to find a good author in the genre. I would recommend to anyone reading O'Brien or Hornblower to check him out.
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on April 14, 2001
Once again, James L. Nelson shows that he not only is a master of the English language, but in the tradition of the sea, this old salt knows how to spin a yarn. This story starts out running and almost immediately splits into three different but parallel stories. They are masterfully progressed until, just short of the last page, they all come together in an explosive climax. Don't start this book if you have chores waiting. You won't be able to put it down until it is finished. This book has more action per page than any in recent memory.
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on January 12, 2002
The quality of Nelson's writing improves measurably with every book. Here he balances a complicated three part plot masterfully right up to the inexorable end. He obviously has done extensive research on the historical and geographic details. While dealing with some strong subject matter he yet maintains a level that would be fully acceptable to a bright junior high school reader and certainly anyone older. I have come to regard these later works as on a par with Patrick O'B!
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on May 1, 2001
Like all of Nelson's books that I have read, this one is fast-moving and historically accurate, but for some reason the characters and the plot grabbed me even more this time. Maybe because of the many twists the plot takes, or the unusual situations, but I loved this book! Read The Guardship first, to know where the characters are coming from (you won't be dissapointed) and then read The Blackbirder.
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on April 23, 2001
This is not nearly as tightly written as Nelson's previous books. It had the feel of Julian Stockwin's new release,interesting, but doesn't stay on subject. The slave issues, although interesting are overdone. Precognition, a multi-tongued, slave selling other slaves is just over the top. Hope Nelson returns to his established telling of wonderful sea stories in his next effort.
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on March 26, 2001
As usual, James Nelson delivers. A worthy sequel to The Guardship, The Blackbirder takes the reader on an amazing journey, not only to historical Boston but to the shores of Africa. Nelson's imagery is as sharp and as beautiful as ever, and its impossible to put the book down. If you're a fan of Forester, O'Brien, or of Nelson's other novels, this is a must have.
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on April 2, 2004
the main story is good except HE HAS TO INSERT the fifthy languaqe in the book.
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