Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nobody’s Slave ~ Tim Vicary

I really enjoyed this fictional account of survival and friendship between Tom (a young English sailor) and Madu (a young black slave) set amidst the back drop of Francis Drake’s third voyage to obtain slaves from Africa to sell to the Spaniards.

I feel that I have an affinity with Francis Drake as I originally hail from Plymouth in South Devon and, before his retirement from the Royal Navy, my late father was based at HMS Drake in Devonport and my wedding reception was held there too.  However, after reading this novel and Tim’s blog post Queen Elizabeth's Slave Trader my illusions about Francis Drake have been slightly shattered, though Tim does remind us that Drake was a man of his time and should not be judged too harshly.

Many of the events depicted in Nobody’s Slave actually happened, and I liked the way that we were shown the aspirations of Madu before his captivity, the manhood test required by his tribe and his desire to be accepted by his stern step father.  We see Madu as a human being with hopes and dreams and not as a commodity to be bought and sold.

Madu and Tom’s destinies become intertwined and their friendship, which begins on rocky ground, strengthens as fate reverses their fortunes.  This is a coming of age story for Madu and Tom, as well as a nautical adventure story, and a bit of a history lesson too.

The narration is straight forward and easy to read though (my only criticism) there were some scenes which would have benefitted from more descriptive writing to portray the intensity of the action taking place instead of keeping all the narration on an even keel.  But, overall, it was an enjoyable read.


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