Dow didn’t dare speak. He had never disagreed with his father before – but how could anyone prefer the gloom of the forest and the slow drip from the branches to this, the shrieking wind, and the cliff, and the tumbling grey ocean?
‘It’s no place for the likes of us,’ Howard Amber concluded, and shook his head. ‘We’ll leave it to the Ship Kings, you and I.’ And with that he turned and began to descend again into the forest.
Dow Amber was born and has grown up high in the mountains of New Island, his destiny – to be a timber cutter – determined by his place as first born son. But he doesn’t mind too much, until the day he first glimpses the ocean. From a clifftop in the mountains he glimpses the sea, and a ship upon it, and a longing to sail is born in him. He must fight to be allowed to leave the mountains and move to a grim fishing village to be trained as a fisherman.
In his new home, in the village of Stromner, Dow finally learns to sail, but what he is most excited by is the spectacle of the big ships, sailed by the Ship Kings, and forbidden to New Islanders such as himself. Dow longs to sail like these people. Not only is it impossible, but he must not come to the attention of the Ship Kings – because if they find out who he really is, they will kill him.
The Coming of the Whirlpool is the first in an outstanding new fantasy series from Andrew McGahan, better known for his literary novels for adults. But what a punch he packs in his debut for teens. Dow must battle nature, foreign rulers, his townspeople and even history, in order to make his way in the world, follow his dreams and stay alive. He becomes the unwitting figurehead for the hopes of his people, and makes friends and enemies along the way. There are the dangerous forces of nature – with a hint of magic – and lots of battles against the elements.
Perfect for those who love sea-faring adventures, or fantasy, or just a ripping yarn, The Coming of the Whirlpool is suitable for readers aged 12 through to adult.
The Coming of the Whirlpool (Ship Kings), by Andrew McGahan
Allen & Unwin, 2011
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