Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


Powder Monkey: Adventures of a Young Sailor

by Paul Dowswell

Series: Powder Monkey (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1268169,983 (3.83)11
Thirteen-year-old Sam endures harsh conditions, battles, and a shipwreck after being pressed into service aboard the HMS Miranda during the Napoleonic Wars.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Obwohl es ein Jugendbuch ist, ist es eines der realistischeren dieses Genres. Der Autor hat sich wirklich alle Mühe gegeben, das Leben (und Sterben) in der britischen Navy zu Nelsons Zeiten so lebensecht wir möglich zu schildern. Für Liebhaber der nautischen Literatur und solche, die es werden wollen, sehr zu empfehlen. ( )
  MrKillick-Read | Apr 4, 2021 |
I'm sure it's fine and all, but apparently I need something more in my royal navy books to keep me interested. A more interesting main character, people outsmarting people, humor, slash, crossdressing girls, something.
  Jellyn | Aug 14, 2013 |
Young Sam Witchall convinces his schoolmaster father that he is serious in his longing to go to sea and is allowed to ship aboard a merchant brig. After a near-disastrous brush with a French privateer, he is pressed at sea and finds himself a ship’s boy on the frigate HMS Miranda. Sam serves as a powder monkey when the ship goes to quarters, hence the title of the first of Paul Dowswell’s young adult series of Historic Naval Fiction. (Dowswell’s title is not original; there are at least a dozen novels and a household cleanser of the same name.)

In this first-person narrative, we share Sam’s fear and desperation as he comes to realize that there is no escape from Miranda. Sam struggles to come to terms with his terror of battle and harsh naval discipline as well as the bullies and predators who loom out of the below-deck darkness. With the help of the older hands in his mess, he learns his duties and becomes more comfortable with shipboard routine. He realizes that his officers, while draconian, are even-handed and disinterested and can even show humanity on occasion. He steps lightly around lower deck bullies – not always successfully. Sam’s fear of the great guns that he and his mates serve slowly abates through repeated drills. Sam survives his first battle and the gunnery practice pays off as Miranda destroys a Spanish frigate, only to be captured by another before she can affect repairs. Thanks in large part to Sam’s intrepid actions, Miranda is recaptured from the prize crew and sails for home, only to be wrecked on the coast of Cornwall. His future rests on the decision he must make in the tiny Cornish village where he is cast ashore.

Powder Monkey is fast-paced and has enough action to engage grown-ups as well as young adults. Relationships are hugely important to early adolescents and Dowswell is true to this concern as Sam (sometimes to his surprise) works out who his real friends are. Sam’s progress aboard Miranda is a high-stakes version of the classic tale of the new boy in school who prevails in the face of demanding teachers and older bullies. Considering his young audience and the fact that the story is told from Sam’s point of view, Dowswell may be justified in finessing many details of ship handling, navigation, tactics and so on. Still, he has done his homework and, with only the odd gaffe, he describes Sam’s duties accurately. The gunnery passages are particularly well done. He stubs his toe on English grammar and usage a couple of times as well, most amusingly when he states that “…men who are hung lose control of their bladders…” Most encouragingly, Dowswell seems to find his rhythm and voice in the second half of the book. Both the writer and his character develop a good deal through this novel, and I look forward to meeting them again in the next book. ( )
1 vote pipester | May 3, 2009 |
The tale of Sam Witchall, contracted to a merchant ship and quickly press-ganged into the British navy, is frought with tension and danger as our protagonist fights for his life alongside his shipmates, but funny and warm in turn as Sam adapts to life aboard his new ship and makes friends with his fellow seamen. It was the details of life aboard ship that really hooked my interest with this one. ( )
  Clurb | Jan 26, 2009 |
Great book. I like the action and adventure of the 1800's. ( )
  wahoofan | Sep 12, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

Belongs to Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
I have watched great men-o'-war raked and blazing, their crews scurrying like ants before the white-hot beam of a child's sun glass.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Thirteen-year-old Sam endures harsh conditions, battles, and a shipwreck after being pressed into service aboard the HMS Miranda during the Napoleonic Wars.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.83)
2 1
2.5 2
3 3
3.5 1
4 9
5 5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 160,623,856 books! | Top bar: Always visible