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I've had a soft spot for the stories of sailors and explorers ever since they helped made me an avid reader in the 5th grade. I can't recall the publisher, but someone put out a whole series on everybody from Ponce de Leon to Henry Hudson, and, of course, Francis Drake and the Golden Hind. Even the name of Drake's most famous ride seemed magical. What young boy would not have been enchanted?

Moving on from those grade school boys' readers, the novels of C.S. Forester and Rafael Sabatini were naturals. Then, later in life, came the books of Patrick O'Brian, which may never be bettered as naval literature.

But. let's face it, even those of us who love Aubrey and Maturin will admit that they are as much., or more, about a friendship between two men as about action on the high seas. Indeed, the author sometimes seems to be taunting us by having the naval engagements happen off-screen, as it were. It can try one's patience.

Well, have no fear, David Wesley Hill serves up all the action you could ask for in this first of his Peregrine James books. When we first meet our unlikely hero he's about to be whipped upon a false accusation of thievery. Though a landlubber he takes the opportunity to sign on with the latest expedition of Francis Drake and there follows a quite literal baptism into life at sea.

Perry's experience as a cook ashore wins him a spot in the galley, while his inexperience as a sailor allows the author to instruct us about sailing as Perry learns his lessons. But it's hardly a dry instructional tome. Suffice it to say, Mr. Hill even wrings drama out of kitchen scenes, nevermind the scenes on land where Perry runs into everyone from spies to Barbary Moors. And, always, perking along in the background is the shipboard politics that led to such controversy later in Drake's voyage, a trip that was ostensibly headed for Alexandria but ended up circumnavigating the globe, whether at the Queen's written command or no.

This is a great read, perfect for beach, plane or easy chair. Grab it and enjoy.


Grade: (A)


See also:

Historical Fiction
David Hill Links:

    -BOOK SITE: At Drake's Command
    -Excerpt from At Drake's Command by David Wesley Hill: Chapter 1: A Fine Morning to Be Whipped (Temurlone Press)
    -INTERVIEW: U.T.B.F Interview With David Wesley Hill, Author Of At Drake’s Command (Under the Black Flag)
    -INTERVIEW: with David Wesley Hill (Book Connection)
    -INTERVIEW: with David Wesley Hill (Bibliophilic Book Blog)
    -INTERVIEW: An Interview with David Wesley Hill (The New York Review of Science Fiction, November 2007)
    -ESSAY The Execution of Thomas Doughty by Francis Drake (David Wesley Hill, 4/08/13, English Historical Fiction Authors)
-REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (David Hayes, Historical Naval Fiction)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (Sarah Watkins, And Then I Read a Book)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (A Bookish Affair)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (Adventures of Maritime History)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (Rachel, A Fair Substitute for Heaven)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (The Book Stop)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (Katherine Ashe, Awesome Indies)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (Military Dad Blog)
    -REVIEW: of At Drake's Command (Historical Novel Society)
    -REVIEW: of at Drake's Command (Grumpy Old Bookman)
    -REVIEW: of

Book-related and General Links:

-TEXT: The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake: Being His Next Voyage to that to Nombre de Dios : Collated with an Unpublished Manuscript of Francis Fletcher, Chaplain to the Expedition : with Appendices Illustrative of the Same Voyage, and Introduction (Google eBook)
    -WIKIPEDIA: Drake, Francis (1540 – 27 January 1596)
    -INTERACTIVE: Google Map of Drake's Journey (
    -Sir Francis Drake (BBC History)
    -Sir Francis Drake (Nova Albion Research)
    -In Drake's Wake [Michael Turner B. Ed (Hons)]
    -Sir Francis Drake: Explorer (Enchanted Learning)
    -Sir Francis Drake (Royal Museums Greenwich)
    -TEXT: Sir Francis Drake on the California Coast (American Journeys)
    -TEXT: Francis Pretty: Sir Francis Drake's Famous Voyage Round The World, 1580 (Modern History Sourcebook)