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Escape by Sea Hardcover – March 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Sara and her father, Hanno Harcar, flee Carthage in the face of an impending invasion by the Romans. Sara has already lost her beloved bother in battle and her mother to illness. Now she and Hanno, a wealthy merchant and Carthaginian senator, take everything they own and cast their fate into the turbulent Mediterranean, swarming with pirates and ever more Romans. With coolness and courage, Sara gradually overcomes her terror and becomes a plucky heroine. Hanno never quite recovers from the trauma of having his world uprooted, and Sara must deal with crew, weather, and enemies while making the decisions about where to sail and how to trade the merchandise that is their livelihood. Markus, a proud but honorable Roman patrician who is captured after a skirmish, and Sara eventually learn to trust each other, forming a bond that will prove fortuitous to the safety of all by story’s end. While nautical terms and mercantile details clutter the narrative at times, this is still a welcome, seaworthy historical adventure in an atypical setting. Grades 6-9. --Anne O'Malley

About the Author

L.S. Lawrence was born in London in 1953 and emigrated to Australia in 1977, having gained a degree in History from University College . He taught in Australian secondary schools and in two universities for many years, obtaining a master's degree in the process. He is now semi-retired and has returned to his first love, historical fiction set in the ancient world. Escape by Sea is his second novel, after Eagle of the East (Omnibus Books, 2007). Lawrence has a passionate interest in history, and his fiction is based on the bones of real stories. Detailed, descriptive, poetic, filled with action, his books transport his readers into another world and another place, an ancient world peopled with strong and charismatic characters.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 195 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823422178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823422173
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #423,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Books and Literature for Teens (BLT) on June 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There aren't very many books for teens/kids about ancient Rome, Greece, Gaul [Germany] so when I saw this book I was actually quite excited. Escape by Sea was a fairly good peek into the past, but there was hardly any plotline and then when it was getting really good..... it just ended. Most of the book took place at sea and most of the characters thoughts and actions were about either defending the ship or trying to figure out the where they were going. The book was written in third person and Sara's character seemed lacked personal emotions, so I couldn't really connect with her or the characters. One thing that annoyed me the most was that inside of saying "Sara's father_____" it said his full title and name; thus I mixed up the characters a lot. Towards the end of book it got pretty good and I started to get the feel of the ancient seas and even imaged what the Roman soldiers looked like. (Plus it helped that I watched B.C. Battles on the History Channel.) Not bad for a first novel. I'll give it a B- for first attempt at a historical fiction. HF is tuff to write, maybe Lawrence's next book will be better. (And if he does I will most likely read it) If you like stuff about sea voyages and adventures this is probably a nice light read for you!
(PS. The cover is so neat!)

Genre: Historical fiction, ancient
Age Group:YA, ages 12+
Content: None
Recommend? Yes
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Format: Hardcover
Panic spread throughout the city of Carthage as residents heard news of the Romans' imminent attack. Sara and her father Hanno, a wealthy merchant and Senator, had heard the news in the worst possible way, for it came with word that Sara's only brother had died in battle. Despite the chaos, Sara managed to gather a cargo of valuable spices, metals, and coins for trade, and then she got herself and her grief-stricken father on board the Heron, the fastest of Hanno's ships.

Their narrow escape from Carthage proved to be just the first of a series of adventures that involved sailing through a raging storm, evading the overwhelming Roman navy, fighting ruthless pirates, and bargaining with shrewd merchants. Throughout these struggles, Sara drew upon her impressive skills in medicine and negotiation at a time when women had virtually no rights.

This novel, with its setting in the Mediterranean Sea of ancient times, draws extensively on incentives associated with merchant trade to motivate the plot. Haggling over prices, sailing particular courses depending on supply and demand, and trying to predict changes in the prices of key commodities are all activities involved in Sara's escape by sea. Readers seeking an exciting read with substantive content and strong characters will not be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover
For 15-year-old Sara, escape by sea is the only option when Roman troops attack her native Carthage, roughly 200 years B.C. Sara and her father flee the doomed city aboard one of her father's merchant ships. As they sail the Mediterranean they face storms and battles, pirates, mercenaries, and Roman ships

Sara is a compelling character. Although raised in wealth and privilege, she has many survival skills, not the least of which is her ability to make sound decisions after her father is killed. The role of women may be tightly limited in her time and place, but the now-orphaned teenage girl quickly earns the loyalty of several men around her and takes charge of her own life.

Vivid details of everyday life, of the merchant trade, and especially of sea travel create a convincing world and bring the distant past into clear focus. As her ship crosses and recrosses the ancient Mediterranean, plot takes a back seat to characterizations and gripping action. The conclusion comes a bit too abruptly to be completely satisfying, but it leaves open possibilities for the reader's imagination to explore.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for a couple of dollars at a sale, intending to stash it and send it to my granddaughter next Christmas. I decided to read it first--and more than ever I'm sure she'll enjoy it. I learned quite a lot about international sea trade in the ancient world's Mediterranean--and despite the trade wars and piracy encountered in this book--wish that our modern multinational CEOs could be as moral and fundamentally honest as the ones in this book, while maintaining the skill and craftiness a trader needs. Lawrence is a good action writer, the book contains one riveting action scene after another, and thankfully knows history down to its intimate household details. The author's name is a pseudonym, but if we could check out his or her real name--the dust jacket only tells us of a background in writing science fiction--I expect we'd find that s/he's a sailboat sailor, too--so authentic are the nautical maneuvers and special argot. The novel has unflagging pace and action, honest motivations which, of course, include great characterization, and a feeling of time and place. It will especially appeal to teenage and pre-teen girls who are seeking authentication of their own strength, intelligence and ability. The author never tells us how old Sara is, the novel's primary protagonist, but my guess would be about 13, since we learn that she is of marriageable age. Sara, who sometimes seems as Stoic as the Romans, has been forced by circumstances to take on responsibilities and wisdom beyond her years, and comes through to maturity both mentally and physically. Highly recommended--especially at this price!
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