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Castaways of the Flying Dutchman Mass Market Paperback – February 26, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Fans of the Redwall series eager to sink their teeth into the latest adventure from Brian Jacques will be surprised to find that the cover of Castaways of the Flying Dutchman belies the contents of this fine mystery novel. A handsome young lad, sporting a billowing, ripped shirt, gazes off into the distance, while behind him a ship founders on an eerily tempestuous sea. It's true, the first (brief) section of the book does tell the tale of a stowaway orphan on the legendary, ill-fated ship, the Flying Dutchman. And that's as swashbuckling a story as they come. But as soon as the boy and his newly adopted dog are tossed into the sea during a ferocious storm, the book takes a sharp turn. Ben and his dog, Ned, given eternal life by a sympathetic angel, now set out to "bring confidence and sympathy, help others to change their fate." Two centuries later, they arrive in the village of Chapelvale, which is filled with quirky, affectionate citizens, who immediately welcome the mysterious but kindhearted and brave boy and his dog. The impending destruction of their village by the blustering, bloated Obadiah Smithers, an industrial speculator, propels Ben and his new friends into a thrilling search for a solution, involving ancient Byzantine gold chalices, mysterious coded messages, and some fierce tête-à-têtes with hired bullies. Illustrator Ian Schoenherr's intriguing line drawings at the beginning of each chapter hint at the upcoming clues to the mystery. Redwall fans be warned: you'll find no warrior mice here. But readers will find a satisfying story that never leaves a doubt as to the ability of good to triumph over evil. (Ages 9 to 12) -- Emilie Coulter --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Well known for his Redwall books (over a dozen volumes detailing the quests and feasts of various plucky woodland creatures), Jacques here turns his attention to the human world, and his fans will not be disappointed. Readers led by the title and cover art to expect a briny swashbuckler may be surprised to find that the bulk of the story consists of an ambling scavenger hunt set in a cozy English village. Pure-hearted enough to escape the curse that befalls the crew of the legendary Flying Dutchman, a boy and his dog are instead granted immortality and sent forth to "spread peace and joy" throughout the world. Two centuries later, in 1896, the ageless Ben and Ned (the latter is the dog) land in Chapelvale, a quaint village threatened with industrialization by a passel of nasty developers and ruled by a gang of juvenile delinquents. With the help of the villagers, the duo conducts a fairly contrived search (one clue is even written in invisible ink) for the ancient land title that will save Chapelvale from its grim fate. Though most of the characters are bipeds, the story doesn't veer much from the Redwall formula. Ultimately, it doesn't much matter whether the bumbling thugs sent from London to intimidate the Chapelvale populace are weasels or humans--Jacques's fans will be tickled by the characters' goofy slapstick regardless of their genus. The care taken with design (among other features, line drawings are set niftily into the first page of each chapter) adds to the appeal. All ages.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Castaways (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (February 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044100914X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441009145
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,799 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

A well-known radio personality in his native Liverpool--as well as an actor, stand-up comic, and playwright--Brian Jacques (1939-2011) was the host of "Jakestown" on BBC Radio Merseyside. Ever the performer, Jacques was well-known for applying his acting and entertainment background to his lively presentations to legions of young fans at schools across the United States and England. Brian Jacques was born in Liverpool, England on June 15th, 1939. Along with forty percent of the population of Liverpool, his ancestral roots are in Ireland, County Cork to be exact. He grew up in the area around the Liverpool docks. His interest in adventure stories began at an early age with reading the books of: Daniel Defoe, Sir Henry Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Thomas Malory, Robert Michael Ballantyne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Kenneth Grahame. He attended St. John's School, an inner city school that had its playground on the roof. On his first day at St. John's, at the age of ten, he had an experience that marked his potential as a writer. When given an assignment of writing a story about animals, he wrote about the bird that cleaned a crocodile's teeth. The teacher could not, and would not, believe that a ten year old could write that well. When young Brian refused to falsely say that he had copied the story, he was caned as "a liar". He had always loved to write, but it was only then, that he realized that he had a talent for writing. "My favourite teacher was Mr. Austin Thomas. He looked like Lee Marvin. Big Man. A Captain in World War II. He came to school on a big bush bike with the haversack on back. He was a man's man. Always fair. I was fourteen at the time when Mr. Thomas introduced the class to poetry and Greek literature. (Because of him, I saved seven shillings and sixpence to buy The Iliad and The Odyssey at this dusty used book shop.)" This interest in poetry extended to Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Goldsmith. It was also at St. John's that Brian met a teacher, Alan Durband (who also taught two Beatles, Paul McCartney and George Harrison), who, more than thirty years later would bring about a major change in his life. After Brian finished school at fifteen, he set out to find adventure as a merchant seaman. He travelled to many far away ports, including New York, Valparaiso, San Francisco, and Yokohama. Tiring of the lonely life of a sailor, he returned to Liverpool where he worked as a railway fireman, a longshoreman, a long-distance truck driver, a bus driver, a boxer, a bobby (Police Constable 216D), a postmaster, and a stand-up comic. Jacques passed away in February of 2011 at the age of 71.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Everyone knows how great Brian Jacques is, from the 12-plus Redwall series. Though he specializes in medieval rodent battles, Jacques's talent shines in a new and unique offering. Though the cover, with a handsome lad in a storm-tossed ship, seems to indicate a very different kind of book from the kind it is.
Ben, the mute hero of the story, survives the destruction of the Flying Dutchman, a sailing ship. Now he wanders the Earth with his talking dog (interesting switch), living forever thanks to an angel. Apparently they're supposed to "bring confidence and sympathy, help others to change their fate." Though this sounds like the beginning of a "Once in a Lifetime"/"Touched by an Angel" drama, it's anything but.
Centuries pass, and the two come to the peculiar town of Chapelvale. The citizens allow them to stay, but the villain is plotting the industrial destruction of their town. A scramble ensues to save the town, full of riddles and hidden clues.
Ben and Ned (the dog) are a delightful duo, well-balanced and sympathetic. Jacques' writing style is smooth and polished, his well-loved formula of good vs. evil as present as ever, even if Ben isn't a walking mouse with a sword.
With delightful dry wit and a supernatural thread running through the prose, Jacques steps outside his series. As well-beloved (and still fresh) as the Redwall books are, hopefully he will write more books in this vein.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nancy E. on March 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Being a Brian Jacques fan for the past five years, I was surprised when he decided to come out with something new. I mean I couldn't picture him telling any other kind of story than Redwall (I mean let's face it his seven short stories aren't his usual masterpieces). So when I picked up this book I was a little skeptical. But when I finished it I was plesently surprised. Castaways... tells the story of Neb and his talking dog Den who are the only survivors of the famous Flying Dutchman. After the shipwreck through an Angel's gift the two are left alive, and with the ablilty to never age or die. In the 19th century he is pulled into a mystery which could save a sleeply little town from being destroyed. But he's on a time limit. Becasue he has to ring with the sound of a church bell, and the villains who are going to steal the town aren't gonna wait for them to solve the mystery.
If you're a fan of Brian Jacgues or just a really good mystery novel read this book. I'm hopeing for a sequel or a prequel to fill in some of the missing years.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By BookBuzz on June 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Brian Jacques, best known for his popular Redwall fantasy-adventure series, launches a new series in his new novel, "Castaways of the Flying Dutchman." With Castaways, Jacques leaves his world of Medieval mice and roguish rats, for a story of a forever-young boy "condemned" to roam the world for eternity, doing good deeds and helping people in need help themselves.
Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this book and strongly recommend it to readers 9 and up. However, chances are Redwall fans will be initially disappointed in this tale. The first fifty pages - the story of how this boy and his dog came to wander the Earth - is a ripping sea yarn worthy of Robert Louis Stevenson. Set in 1620, it has a tyrannical sea captain and a mutinous crew. After the murderous captain curses God in the midst of an epic battle against nature, an avenging angel descends to condemn The Flying Dutchman and its crew to an eternity upon the seas. When the boy, Ben, and his dog are washed overboard, the angel grants the innocent lad a reprieve of sorts: an eternal quest to do good.
Here again, the author must battle the expectations of even first time readers. I was looking forward to an epic tale of Ben's journey through the ages. Instead, Jacques takes us to the small English village of Chapelvale in 1896. The bulk of the book essays a single task given to the boy. In this thin plot, Ben must help a widow find the deed to her lands and save the village from developers.
But, like Lois Lowry's "Gathering Blue," Castaways is made a very enjoyable read by the sheer quality of the writing.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By No on April 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When I got 'Castaways' from a librarian, I thought- 'Hmmm, interesting.' I didn't have very high expectations after reading his other works outside of the Redwall plot (Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales) which in my opinion were horrible.
But I was wrong. This tale about a mute boy and his dog, aboard the Flying Dutchman with cruel hearted crew members and a horrible captain. When the Angel curses the ship and its crew to eternal voyages, this young boy and his dog are passed over because of their innocence. With the boy receiveing the gift of speech and a telepathic connection with his dog, the are sent to help the oppressed people staying young forever....
Most of this book is centered on the boy and his dog helping an old lady to find clues that lead to the deed proving her ownership of the land and stopping the tyrannic developing company. Jaques uses the characteristic riddle-to-find-something-that-saves-everyone ideas that sprinkle the whole Redwall series. Personally, you get along a lot better not trying to solve the riddles- seeing as it takes the genius people in the books a while to finish.
A wonderful book, and I think you should buy it- fan of sword bearing rodents or not.
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