In pinball, the player tries his darnedest to prevent the steel ball from achieving it's goal of dropping straight into the bottom cup. In the quest, it is bounced, ricocheted, bumped, detoured, and shot about the game. Such should happen to one's hero as he or she strives to win by achieving the worthy theme.
Every author has a style. I am concrete-sequential. That's the way I have lived and that is generally the way I write, moving along a linear path from point A to point B to point ad infinitum to resolution of the thematic question. In the Brethren, our hero has recovered his ship and moved to the open sea. That alone provides a great many possibilities to complicate his life, and allow he and supporting characters to develop.
Crossing the open ocean under sail in 1600 was no cakewalk. Depending on the wind, it took anywhere from 30 to 45 days. The Raven is a Brigantine, two masts with a combination of lateen sails (triangular affairs) and square sails with oars as backup. When cooperative, the wind could push her along at 7 to 10 knots an hour (8-11.5 mph), the average speed being closer to 5 kts. (6 mph). The average walking speed is 2.5 kts. (2.5 to 3 mph.), a jog 5 kts. What does that provide? Boredom, especially if the speed in zilch.
As hinted during the time at San Borondon Island, not all of the crew are our hero's faithful originals. These guys are cramped. One-hundred feet bow to stern and twenty-one feet wide, there is a crew of fifty (decidedly more during the attack). When not working, crew either sit out of the way on deck or sleep in a hammock.
Each person signing on agrees to abide by a code of conduct. Obviously that must be strictly enforced. Hogshead Shaver is a man of reactive-action. When he had a fight break out amidships, his response was to throw the culprit bodily overboard. For the man's sake, ships trailed a rope to grab--if they knew how to swim. Surprisingly, not very many seamen knew how. Our hero possess a much different temperament. How will he handle conflicts and maintain discipline? The code is specific, but how will he handle mutiny?
Yes, the code addresses that, but allows for some discretion. This is where our hero demonstrates that he may not be Mr. Nice Guy. One of his strong points is to know each of his crew personally, and picks up on an emerging problem. The plot was to poison the officers. Forget walking-the-plank which hardly ever happened in real life. Having murdered a crewman who discovered their plan, this is a hanging affair, but that is a slow and nasty. His solution is to allow the co-conspirators to choose between the rope or drinking the poisoned wine. The leader is not given the quick method. To complicate matters, there are a number of young men and boys aboard who he does not wish to observe punishment, yet must learn some invaluable lessons. How does the "father" of the Raven handle that?
Once resolved, the Raven is becalmed. How to deal with sitting around in the heat without a good book to read? But such weather can portend something worse, and in this case, a hurricane which blows them off course.
When the storm ends, they are close to land, but also come across another ship, the Manchester, which is badly damaged. It also has another problem. No captain or quartermaster and no one is talking about what happened to them.
This is a thumbnail sketch of the next few chapters, but what is important is that these pages provide the opportunity to address historical facts about sailing and contending with nature and human behavior. This is, after all, a novel based on historical fact if not events without boring the reader.
|Jules Gabriel Verne 1828 – 1905) the French novelist, poet, and playwright best known for his adventure novels and his profound influence on the literary genre of science fiction.|
By this time the hero is better fleshed out, although there is some shaping yet to occur. Secondary characters are introduced (or in some cases re-introduced, having been born in earlier books), and begin to function on their own. Discovery of the Manchester and it's problems leads to the next section--re-uniting with the pirate armada. Launching the mission to rescue the old pirate's family may have to go on hold as our hero deals with another problem from left field--Arab slavers.