The Guardship: Book One Of The Brethren Of The Coast

The Guardship: Book One Of The Brethren Of The Coast

by James L Nelson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061853173
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,199,268
File size: 528 KB

About the Author

James L. Nelson has served as a seaman, rigger, boatswain, and officer on a number of sailing vessels. He is the author of By Force of Arms, The Maddest Idea, The Continental Risque, Lords of the Ocean, and All the Brave Fellows -- the five books of his Revolution at Sea Saga. -- as well as The Guardship: Book One of the Brethren of the Coast. He lives with his wife and children in Harpswell, Maine.

Read an Excerpt

PUBLICK TIMES in Williamsburg. April the fifth, the Year of Our Lord 1701. The night before Marlowe killed young Wilkenson. The night Marlowe was asked to command the guardship.

The colony of Virginia was a wild place then, a wilderness of great rivers and creeks and islands and mile after mile of woodland that had never seen a white man's face. Otter and beaver in vast numbers. Enough fish in the water that a man could fill a canoe in half a day. A place where a man could disappear forever, and many did, and not always by their own design.

There were few towns of any note in the tidewater regions. Travel in Virginia and Maryland was made easy by the great Chesapeake Bay. Rather than struggling over decrepit roads the people there used the rivers as their highways, and there was little need for them to bunch up in settlements.

So, they lived in far-flung plantations where, with ax and torch, they beat back the thick forest to make room for tobacco, more and more tobacco, that unfailing cash crop.

And when they did congregate for Publick Times in the capital city of Williamsburg, after their long and unnatural solitude, it was a raucous time indeed. The streets overflowed with people. Men and women, freemen, indentured servants, and slaves moved in throngs from one revelry to the next. Beautiful coaches with matching teams and footmen in fine livery pushed down sandy Duke of Glouchester Street.

As the warm day gave way to the cool of evening, a spirit of good humor prevailed throughout the tightly packed taverns, boyling houses, publick houses, and ordinaries. All men, gentlemen and commoners,were fellows on that day, and planters, tradesmen, farmers, laborers, mechanics, sailors, thieves, and picaroons reveled together in the streets.

Thomas Marlowe stood to one side of the ballroom, the grand ballroom in the governor's house, watching the brilliant silks and velvets, the long white wigs of the gentlemen, and the great piles of hair atop the ladies' heads as they moved across the floor in their elaborate cotillions and minutes.

He could feel the sweat running down his face under his own wig. The weight of his red silk coat with its gold embroidery, the snug-fitting waistcoat, seemed to grow more unbearable with each moment. His shoes pinched intolerably.

The air outside was cool, sweet, and pleasant, but inside the hall, with its great chandeliers and their hundreds of burning candles and the crowd of people all whirling and curtsying across the floor, the atmosphere was thick and all but unbearable.

From a nearby open window Marlowe caught a welcome breath of air, and with it came the muted sounds of gunfire and singing and shouting and laughter. The common people had taken their celebrations to the public square, carrying on in the country manner. It was a very different kind of celebration than the governor's highly civilized affair, and, Marlowe imagined, considerably more fun.

But despite his discomfort he managed to do a tolerable job of appearing to enjoy himself. There was no one there, excepting Francis Bickerstaff, who stood beside him, who might have guessed at how miserable he was.

"I quite fail to understand, Marlowe, why we must subject ourselves to this torment," Bickerstaff said. "I am certain that we are witnessing one of the circles of hell. I should think we will see enough of damnation in the next life that we might forgo it now."

Bickerstaff was the most plainly dressed man in the crowd. This is not to say that his clothing was poor, far from it. He wore a blue silk coat, adorned with only a bit of embroidery, and that blue as well, a simple white waistcoat, and breeches, all of the finest silk, unadorned, a plain cut, subtle and of the highest order.

"Now, Bickerstaff," said Marlowe, "we could hardly decline an invitation to the Governor's Ball. One does not advance in Virginia society by staying at home and ignoring such affairs."

"Why you should be so obsessed with rising in Virginia society is yet another mystery to me."

" 'There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Francis Bickerstaff."' Marlow turned to his friend and smiled. "Is that not what your William Shakespeare said?"

Bickerstaff sniffed. "Something to that effect, though he is hardly 'my' William Shakespeare."

Marlowe was Bickerstaff's junior by about ten years, or so he guessed, but that was only a guess. Bickerstaff would not reveal his age, and Marlowe did not know his own for certainty, but he imagined Bickerstaff was around forty-five. He had a thin frame and the perpetually dour countenance of the serious pedagogue, which indeed he had once been. He was a learned man, skilled in Latin and Greek, mathematics, natural science, and all of those subjects befitting a gentleman.

Marlowe opened his mouth to reply, when his eye caught a parting in the crowd as the dancers drew apart with the precision of soldiers on a parade ground. He turned, and for an instant he could see clear to the far end of the room.

And there he saw her, for the first time that night.

Her hair was the color of fresh straw and made up in a great pile, held in place by a gold comb, which in turn was covered with jewels that glinted in the light from the chandeliers.

Her skin was white and perfect and smooth from her forehead to the tops of her lovely round breasts, pushed up by her bodice. Her waist was tapered down perfectly to the point where her farthingale held silk skirts far out from her sides. She was beautiful, and though Marlowe had made no overtures in her direction, thinking it improper given her circumstance, and indeed had spoken to her but a few times, he was her slave.


What People are Saying About This

Patrick O'Brian

There are few greater pleasures than reading a book about a world that is not our own but that is concerned with a perfectly recognizable society with almost identical emotions-in this case the American colonies in the very early eighteenth century and the sea off their coasts-and the pleasure is very much increased when the writer is a master of both his period and of the English language.

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Guardship: Book One of the Brethren of the Coast 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite several scenes needing more work, such as. Thomas regr et after running from the fight and Elizabeth disappointment/horror at his behavior your fascination/enrapture never flags!
Neilsantos on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Not certain about this. Requires further investigation.
nakmeister on LibraryThing 7 months ago
A really rather good historical fiction novel set in colonial America (Virginia) around 1700. Easy to read, not too heavy on the detail it grips you from the outset and doesn't let up. Some reviewers describe this as maritime fiction, but the characters are on land as much as they are on ship which I found to be a good thing. Definitely recommend - I read all 450 pages in the space of 4 days which is as quick as I've read a book in a long time.
ChrisWise on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Interesting way to look at early Virginia and its environs -- through the eyes of an ex-pirate. Lots of swash to be buckled.
AdventureDining More than 1 year ago
Good, fun read. Thought I would tack this onto another book I was buying just to see how it was. Suprised to find it rather good read for the price. If you like tall ship novels or pirate novels, give it a go. Price is excellent for quality.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
My first James Nelson book. A lack of novels from the time period make this a very desirable choice for any history buff. Even if your not a history buff you will like the story and Nelson's style, speckled with eighteenth century maritime jargon. The book displays an excellent intertwining of vivid characters and an accellerating plot toward the climax. I have read the Richard Sharpe series and the Starbuck Chronicles by Cornwell and I now can't wait to get to my next Thomas Marlowe story by Mr. Nelson.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a member of the Norfolk Historical Society and work for a historical house in Williamsburg. This book amazed me with it's accuracy. This is the first of Nelson's novels I have read, and I am astounded. Please read this book, i recomend it highly and I am very cynical about books like this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was very good, it kept me reading even when i had other things to do. this book got me hooked on James Nelson and i later read all of the rest of his books. read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'The Guardship' is the first James Nelson book i have bought and what an impression it has left. The whole book was extremely well laid out to me, it created an outstanding atmosphere and was a pleasure to read. The character's are detailed to the point that you can see them as clear as day and in some case's almost smell them too. I haven't been this drawn into a book since i read 'Treasure Island'. Some of the language is a bit strong in places but it helps you get a feel for the atmosphere of the times. Overall if you enjoy action and Pirates i highly recommend this title.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished reading James L. Nelson's, The Guardship, and found it to be outstanding! I grew up boating on the James River from Richmond to the Chesapeake Bay and can not find a single discrepency. His description of shipboard life presents a whole new insite to life aboard a pirate vessel. If you like tall ships and early American History don't miss this book.