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Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

Style: Average

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

In Brief: Great premise, disappointing execution; Unobjectionable

Cover of Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

Author: Brian Jacques

Series: Castaways of the Flying Dutchman

Publisher: Viking

Published in: 2001

Age Range: Pre Teens

Period: Various

Setting: The Flying Dutchman / English Village

Genres:  AdventureFantasySpooky


Characters:

  • Ben is the galley-boy of the Flying Dutchman, set free to roam the world and do good when its crew are condemned to sail the seas forever.
  • Ned is Ben's dog who can talk to him.

Synopsis:

The galley-boy of the Flying Dutchman is set free when the Captain's blasphemy brings down God's wrath on him: while the ship and its crew must sail the seas forever, the boy and his dog are set free to roam the Earth, unageing, to do good.

Ben and Ned find themselves washed up on the shore of Tierra del Fuego and are taken in by a lonely shepherd. They spend three years helping him before being sent on by the angel who cursed The Flying Dutchman. They end up in an English village at the end of the 19th Century. Greedy developers are starting to move in and the only hope for the village is to find the deeds proving that the land is owned by the Winn family.

Notes:

Literary Quality: Redwall meets The Secret Seven. The idea behind the story holds great promise: a pair from the mythical Flying Dutchman freed to do good, never ageing. At first a couple of nicely wrought chapters set in Tierra del Fuego seems as if we might be onto a series of set pieces carrying us through the years. But then, all of a sudden we're in late 19th Century England in an idyllic village with characters and a story straight out of Enid Blyton. The result is really quite disappointing; it descends into an uninspired kids-beat-adult-developers story into which Ben's past and possibilities hardly intrude at all.

Religion: It is an angel which sets God's curse on the Flying Dutchman and which sends Ben and Ned on their way whenever they settle. With no particular significance, While the villagers look for the missing deeds, the clues turn up various religious artefacts hidden, presumably, at the Reformation.

Ben resisted the urge to comfort her. Instead he passed a thought to his dog.

“Did you hear all that?”

The big black animal opened one eye. “Well, almost, I've got the general idea of what's going on. Though I don't see how we can help.”

Ben's fists clenched involuntarily. “But we've got to help. Now I know why the angel steered us to Chapelvale, Ned: We must help these people to help themselves in some way or other! Ned, you've closed that eye — are you going to sleep?”

The labrador's eye flicked lazily open. “No, I'm giving it some thought. The best way to solve a problem is to sleep on it. Not a lot we can start doing until tomorrow, is there, Ben

Monday 4th August 2003