Friday, January 20, 2012
FIRST FLEET by M Howard Morgan
Jack Vizzard is a promising young lawyer who becomes involved with a village girl, Mary, who is below his social standing. While she is accused of a petty offence and subsequently sentenced to transportation, Jack commits a far more heinous crime for which he escapes apprehension. To ensure his safely he joins the Marine Corps.
The time is 1786 and a fleet of eleven ships under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip sails from Spithead conveying a consignment of convicts to New Holland – the land ‘discovered’ by James Cook and considered ideal for colonial settlement.
By co-incidence Jack Vizzard and Mary, unbeknown to each other, undertake this voyage.
While the initial relationship between Jack and Mary is intense, once the ships arrive in New South Wales, this relationship mellows and the focus of attention switches to the animosity between Jack and his superior officer, Major Ross.
The fact, the book’s title suggests it is a naval story, is misleading, as the majority of the story is land-based in England and Sydney. However, the historical records of the specific ships and personnel involved in this event are carefully adhered to.
FIRST FLEET is M. Howard Morgan’s first novel. It is a well written and easy to read (I read the Kindle edition), though it contains some minor errors which would be worth editing in the next edition.
FIRST FLEET provides an interesting insight into the role of the Marines who played an integral role in the establishment of the new colony which was to become Australia.