The Swallows and Amazons are sailing with Nancy and Peggy's Uncle Jim (better known as Captain Flint) when their hired deckhand tells them a tale of his younger days - a tale to set pulses racing and hopes shooting sky high. Soon their boat is on its way to a Caribbean treasure hunt and they find themselves up against shark, storm, earthquake - and the vilest pirate who ever eavesdropped at a porthole.
Reviewed on 1st July 2011
Peter Duck is the second written but third published of the Swallows and Amazons novels, and is quite different in setting from the other two. The children are visiting Captain Flint on his schooner to go sailing in the channel, and are joined by old sailor Peter Duck. Their holiday becomes and adventure though when Mr Duck tells them of long-lost treasure, and Black Jake the pirate chases them across the seas.
Although written to be a story the children made up over the winter between their first two adventures, in its final form the tale is presented no differently than the others and I'm convinced that when I first read this book as a child the only clue I had that it wasn't meant to be a real adventure was the presence of Peter Duck, who Swallowdale had established as an imaginary person.
It's an exciting tale that moves at a good pace, though there's perhaps more focus on the action in this one than on the characters, with only Roger really standing out of the regulars, and new characters Bill and Peter Duck getting most of the attention. There are several parts where it is starting to date, not least in terms of the language, some of which would today be considered politically incorrect, however this doesn't really detract from the story - just might need adjusting for children who might repeat words without understanding (unless modern editions have been altered, which I doubt as my copy is from 1993).
Overall another impressive novel which I'm glad I took the time to read again as an adult. Probably not as much of a favourite as the stories set in the lakes, but certainly a good part of the series. Well worth a read for the modern child, though some better diagrams to explain the different sails might be a good idea.