Book Review: Victory

The year is 1803, and eleven-year-old Sam Robbins is taken by a press gang and forced into service in the Royal Navy. Life on the ship is hard at first, as Sam has to deal with hardships from seasickness to bullying by older boys and abusive officers. But as Sam adjusts to shipboard life, he begins to love the life on the sea. Sam’s ship, The Victory, becomes the flag ship for Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson in his quest to stop Napoleon from conquering the world, a quest which will come to a tragic end at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Interspersed with Sam’s story is the story of Molly Jennings, who in 2006 is living in Connecticut, desperately homesick for her home in London. Molly is reading about Lord Nelson, and she finds a talisman which gives her a mystical connection to Sam. Through Sam’s eyes, Molly experiences the battle and the events leading up to it.

In Victory, Susan Cooper demonstrates once again what a masterful storyteller she is. Victory is primarily historical fiction, not fantasy, but it’s historical fiction that will appeal to fantasy fans. Sam’s story is exciting and draws you in to the world of the early 19th century. And Molly’s story is also compelling, although in a very different way. Both children are well-drawn characters that the reader can identify with. Highly recommended for fans of both fantasy and historical fiction.

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