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Captain Hawk (Hawk's Legacy Series Book 1)…
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Captain Hawk (Hawk's Legacy Series Book 1)

by S J Garland

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Sail, not drift – A review of the novel ‘Captain Hawk’

“I can't control the wind but I can adjust the sail.” - Ricky Skaggs

Author SJ Garland’s novel ‘Captain Hawk’ chronicles the lives of British and Dutch expats in Singapore at the pinnacle of the East India Company’s reign. It’s set in the early 1800’s and we follow the adventures of Nathaniel Hawk, an able and highly trained seaman who would rather seek glory and adventures on land than out on the sea. But after a series of nefarious mishaps threaten the peaceful existence of the shipping business, Nathaniel finds himself at the centre of it all especially after a great tragedy strikes close to home. This is the story of a man who must desperately find answers to secrets surrounding his life, not only to find closure but also to secure his future.

Nathaniel is the quintessential reluctant hero who would rather follow a different life path from the one he’s preordained to follow. But a series of events doesn’t allow him this luxury and he finds himself having to take on great responsibilities in the midst of ruins everywhere. Nathaniel’s growth graph has been brilliantly charted by the author, he’s not presented as a finished hero product, and neither does he become one by the end. But the growth in his character, his own realization of his purpose in life makes for a highly interesting lead character. This change in him can be seen throughout the book as we see the changing dynamics of his relationship with other important characters. Nathaniel as a literary character has plenty going for him and is someone you can spin plenty of adventure stories around.

The book uses both Nathaniel and Charlotte to cleverly narrate this story. In the Nathaniel narrative you get to peek inside the mind of the lead character and become privy to all the action and adventure from a first person’s objective. While from the Charlotte’s point of view, we not only get to see the important role her character plays but are also introduced to a host of secondary characters and sub-plots that help in establishing an identity for the place and era in which the story is set in. This helps the reader feel more connected with these characters and could prove beneficial when the sequel comes out.

The writing is very precise and at the same time is highly descriptive too, giving all the scenes a visual comprehension. Various themes like identity crisis, the complexity and uniqueness of father-son relationships, family honor, etc find flavor in the author’s writing. Being a historical fiction, this book introduces to you a different side of Singapore and history really does come alive in this melting pot of different cultures and personalities. The realism employed by the author often makes you forget the fact that you are reading a fictional book.

It’s a great start to a brand new series by a talented author! ( )
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  Kevin_Peter | Jun 3, 2015 |
Captain Hawk
By S.J. Garland
Maple Kakapo Publishing Ltd.; 2015

At a request by letter from his father, gambler Nathaniel Hawk sails to Singapore. Upon arrival, Nathaniel's father, Sabastian Hawk isn't around. In fact, the famous East India Company captain is late to return, and seems to have gone missing. Did he meet his demise at the hands of a mysterious ghost ship - or is he just delayed?
Will Nathaniel Hawk give up his hedonistic lifestyle and once again sail on a ship in search of what happened to his father? And if he does, will Nathaniel find his father - or survive his own possible encounter with the rumoured ghost ship?
S.J. Garland's new book, "Captain Hawk" is a well researched, well written, all around fabulous tale of adventure!
I received this book for free to review. I am a member of Goodreads, LibraryThing, NetGalley and maintain a book blog at dbettenson.wordpress.com. ( )
  DBettenson | May 17, 2015 |
Explosive foray into the early, heady days of Singapore!

Mad dogs and Englishman go out in the noon day sun!
Ah! Cricket, in Singapore, I can't even contemplate it. Even the thought of the heat makes me feel faint. Apparently cricket is part of the expat life in Singapore at the time of Sir Stamford Raffles and the First Resident, William Farquhar. Singapore in 1823 was the new trading frontier on the Malay Peninsula--a clearing house for rare spices, silks and porcelains from China. A place where the quest for riches vies with the unruliness of fortune seekers, trade ships and their crews, the Chinese secret organizations, and the Dutch threat.
Nathaniel Hawk has come to Singapore at his fathers request, only to find him gone, out testing a new ship. His father, Captain Sebastian Hawk, a renowned captain for the East India company is due back soon.
Only Captain Hawk doesn't return! From a handful of survivors it's determined that his ship was sunk by a rumoured 'ghost' ship, a will-o'-the-wisp, all black and terrible, hard to see against the twilight seas, with multiple and terrible guns that wreak havoc on its unsuspecting prey. It seems Captain Hawk has joined the litany of other victims.
Then there's the mad Dutch captain, Collaart who wants Nate's head at any cost, and First Resident Farquhar seems just the man to hand Nate over, especially when trade is being threatened.
So how much does cricket have to do with sailing ships, trade in the East Indies and this book. Perhaps it's the code, perhaps it's the not giving up, of playing the game out. Or perhaps for the English, it's a touch of home. I like the following explanation. Charlotte Carstairs asks her father's headman, 'Why do all trading metaphors come from cricket?" Bingham replies, "I imagine because it's we Brits are great at both.'
Put together the steamy, seamy sides of Singapore, the quarrels at the very top of society, questions about the safety of trade ships that could make and break fortunes, and the deteriorating personal relations that develop between Nate and his friends and there's plenty of grist for an explosive story. Add to the mix the charming and headstrong Charlotte Carstairs who will do anything to ensure her father's trading house succeeds, rather than unravel into bankruptcy and poverty; include the lure of opium, and the threat of cholera, and the recipe for mystery and intrigue deepens.
Nathaniel is a reluctant hero, of strong opinions and loyalties, an able fighter and seaman, who has turned his back on the sea. He only wants to hie back to England but finds himself thwarted by fate at every turn.
I enjoyed Garland's 'Markinch ' series immensely, and if this first book of the Hawk Legacy series is anything to go by, then this latest series will certainly live up to the same high standard previously set by Garland.

ARC from author ( )
  eyes.2c | May 7, 2015 |
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