The Smugglers

The Smugglers

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by Iain Lawrence

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"Steer clear of that ship," warns the mysterious gentleman who shares a coach with John and his father. "Death she'll bring you," says the man. "It's the way of a ship that was christened with blood."

This is an ominous introduction to the schooner John is about to be entrusted with for a voyage to London. But he's too charmed by the

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"Steer clear of that ship," warns the mysterious gentleman who shares a coach with John and his father. "Death she'll bring you," says the man. "It's the way of a ship that was christened with blood."

This is an ominous introduction to the schooner John is about to be entrusted with for a voyage to London. But he's too charmed by the pretty Dragon to heed the advice. The ship looks clever and quick, and John can hardly wait to sail her. She was a smugglers' vessel once, but now she's his Dragon, and she'll proudly carry wool for honest trade.

But soon John will be forced to consider the gentleman's warning. And to wonder what he really knows about his bonny crew.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readers who devoured The Wreckers will be eager to dig into this seafaring sequel."—Booklist, Starred

"A corking good nautical adventure."—The Horn Book Magazine

"[To] be devoured in a single sitting."—The Bulletin

"Full of vivid descriptions that are swarming with historical detail."—Kirkus Reviews

To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 1999: Return to the British coast, smugglers, sailing ships, and the violence and adventure Lawrence described in The Wreckers. John and his father, having recovered from the horrors in The Wreckers, are on their way by coach to the coast of Kent where they hope to take possession of a new schooner, The Dragon, which they will sail as a merchant ship. On the way, a highwayman injures John's father, who sends John on alone (John is 16) to sail The Dragon, with a load of wool, to London. John is taken over by a devilish Captain Crowe, who runs The Dragon to France to pick up brandy, returning to rendezvous with smugglers in Britain. John shows unbelievable courage and stubbornness to betray the smugglers and regain his ship. The action is nonstop, and the exotic period and John's bravery should capture the interest of young readers, especially those who already know something about ships and sailing. (Editor's note: This is an ALA Best Book for YAs.) (Sequel to the Wreckers) KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 1999, Random House/Dell/Yearling, 183p, map, 20cm, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-In Iain Lawrences's The Smugglers (Delacorte, 1999), set in Cornwell, England at the beginning of the 19th century, 16-year-old John Spencer and his father continue their adventures that began in The Wreckers (Delacorte, 1998). This time they are buying a new trading vessel, the Dragon, and hiring a crew who lead them into danger. Reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, the main characters are caught in deception and intrigue. Encountering piracy aboard their ship, they use both wit and muscle to outmaneuver the deadly attempts on their lives. British actor Ron Keith uses differing tones of inflection to create suspense. His pronunciation is clear, and the reading is well-paced. Listeners will enjoy this dramatic tale of the high seas.-Tina Hudak, Takoma Park Maryland Library, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Mary M. Burns
What places The Smugglers in the first rank of pirate-adventure yarns is the author's ability to create memorable characters...Avast, ye lubbers, for a great read!
The Horn Book Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
In this companion to The Wreckers (1998), Lawrence provides more adventures on the high seas. When John Spencer's father buys the mysterious black schooner, the Dragon, the 16-year-old boy is excited until he learns that he must make the ship's maiden voyage without his father. Among the bad omens: Mr. Spencer survives a shooting, and later, the captain they've hired is killed. Mr. Spencer is convinced that their affairs are looking better when he hires the colorful Captain Crowe to assume command of the vessel. No sooner does the schooner sail out of harbor than Crowe changes course unexpectedly, claiming that he has new orders. Crowe, of course, is a pirate, as are the scalawags he's hired, and in no time, John is trapped with the scurrilous crew. When it seems that John will be fed to the fish by Crowe, he escapes and lives to see the cur hanged on his beloved Dragon. The storytelling is broad but the details are fine: Lawrence has packed his tale full of vivid descriptions that are swarming with historical detail, painting as honest a picture of piracy as readers are likely to encounter. (Fiction. 9-14)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 7.69(h) x 0.44(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

I fetched a lantern and went right to the depths of the ship, where water, brown and fetid, slurped among the timbers. I went through the darkness in a circle of light, frightening cockroaches into shelter, hearing the groans and creaks of the hull as it worked. The places where I had to go were small and cramped, and I slithered through them as the lantern made the shadows zoom and tilt.

And someone came behind me.

When I stopped, he was silent. When I moved, so did he. I heard a faint creaking of wood as he crept up, closing the distance. He was quiet as a cat. And suddenly I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I cried out, startled, as he pushed me down against the hull.

"You're in danger, boy," said he.

I tried to lift myself, to turn and see him, but the sailor held me down.

"Watch yourself," he said. "There's one aboard who'll kill you."


For a moment I only heard him breathing. He said, "The one who seems least likely."

"But who?" I asked again.

He pressed harder on my shoulder. "He'll want the dead man's secrets. See you keep them safe."

"Who are you?" I asked.

"A man you never saw." And then the hand was gone.

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Smugglers 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a good one Although not as suspenseful as the first in the series, it intrigued me none the less. Read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. very fast paced and action packed. lawrence does very well with characters and plot...basically a really good writer!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Smugglers is one of the best books that I have ever read! It is so exciting that you won't want to put it down. This book is full of suspense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Spencer is met by a mysteriouse man that has information for him but disappears before he can tell. John is now on a ship with five untrustworthy men and has to bribe them to stay alive. This story was a thrill seeking one that keeps me on the edge of my seat. The only problem was that at some points it was a little confusing. Over all it was a pretty good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book! The setting is in Kent, England, in a carriage. There were many problems and conflicts throughout the book. One was in the beginning, when a man jumps the carriage that John and his father are riding in and the man shoots his father. Worst of all, the man ends up to be a sailor on The Dragon, the ship that John and his father buy. Read the rest to discover the end of the book. It is full of mystery and adventure. I loved it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A 4th-grader recommended this book to me when I forgot to bring my own while baby-sitting him. I was very impressed with it! It captivated my imagination to the point I couldn't put it down. I was even reading it on the way to a power plant I had to do some engineering on. I highly recommend this book for anyone of any age. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Smugglers' was an adventure story about a young boy and his fathers new ship. As it turns out the boy must face sailing the ship alone with a captain who was a mere stranger. The boy also must deal with the harsh conditions of life at sea. The boy stumbles onto some notes and decides to take the ship on a smuggling run. On the smuggling trip he encounters many dangers and enemies. The story is excellent if the your a reader that loves the sea but to a modern person the story may be quite boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Smugglers is an impressive epic of piracy on the high seas, the illegal act of smuggling and murder, a recipe for a mildly violent story topped off with the dream of a young boy and an appealing yet evil captain. The Smugglers is a book for any mature age. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the BEST I have ever read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was the beast book I have ever read!