Under the watchful, if tired, eyes of Captain Butterfield, John is completing his apprenticeship on his father’s merchant ship the Dragon. All appears to be going well until they pick up a mysterious sailor—Mr. Horn—drifting in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr. Horn, it turns out, is not an ordinary tar. He was cast off from a ship that had been attacked by pirates led by the legendary Bartholomew Grace. Rather than be killed, Horn signs up with the pirates and, as they say, the dice were cast. Indeed, Horn’s attempt to escape his fate—the gallows—rests on Bartholomew Grace in the end, a twist that complicates John Spencer’s trip home beyond imagination as the tale comes to a close.
Horn travels with the Dragon to exotic ports including Jamaica and Trinidad. Near disaster befalls the hapless crew as they run into Captain Grace and his pirate brig the Apostle. After a brief duel, the Dragon is forced to repair the damage from Grace’s cannon or risk going to Davy Jones’s locker.
John and Captain Butterfield beach the Dragon on the island of Culebra, just east of Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, Culebra turns out to be the rumored site of Captain Kidd’s lost treasure, much to the dismay of Spencer and Horn. The pace picks up as the unlucky crew of the Dragon is quickly faced with warding off the cutthroat Grace and his band of pirates. John Spencer must use his wits and the questionable loyalty of an old friend discovered among Grace’s crew to make it home alive to England.
The Buccaneers is lively and easy to read. The characters are both likable and believable, although John Spencer is unrelenting in his honesty and sense of honor. Lawrence does an admirable job of weaving classic pirate tales into the plot, giving it enough of a twist to keep us interested and reading on.
What do you think?