Voyage of Slaves Brian Jacques, 356 pages, paperback, NZ$16.95
“We are all chickens, mate, surrounded by hawks.”
The perception is accurate but the speaker (or rather thinker) is unexpected. Ned the dog, shares with his young master Ben the doubtful distinction of having escaped the doom of the Flying Dutchman. The pair have gained powers of communication but they are also fated to roam the seven seas for ever.
In Voyage of Slaves, their third adventure, they are captured by the slave-trader Al Misurata, Lord of the Barbary Coast, along with a troupe of travelling performers. While the adventures that carry them all across the Mediterranean are well researched, the characters never move far beyond stereotypes and it is only the fast-paced action that holds the reader’s attention. Even though Ben has lived several lifetimes, he doesn’t appear to have learned much from his experiences. Ned the labrador seems much wiser and helps keep the story moving.
This review first appeared in The Press, Christchurch NZ, on 22 Mar 2008.