This, believe it or not, was my introduction to Doyle, long before I read any Sherlock Holmes stories. Our 7th-grade English book had abridged and annotated versions of three different classic novels and "The White Company" was one of them.
I wanted to read the whole thing, and fortunately the local library had a copy. I read it a number of times through Junior High, and it led me to seek out other Doyle works. The man was a great storyteller, and this book shows you why, in spades!
Its historical accuracy probably doesn't jibe with 21st-Century norms, but from my further reading (yes, it did interest me in the history involved) it's also not as bad as a lot of historical novels from the same era.
I highly recommend this for kids and kids at heart. In fact, I just re-read it again!
It's too bad nobody has (apparently) transcribed "The Autobiography of a Seaman," which covers the more interesting parts (from our point of view) of Cochrane's career in much more detail. The first chapter here is a brief summary of the adventures of "the Radical peer" who was the prototype of Horatio Hornblower, who was in turn the prototype of Captain Kirk. Yes, this is where it all began! Excellent for content, one point off for stiff style.
It really is a good story "if you don't like reading large books." If you do, "The Cosmic Computer" is an extension of the same story to novel length; or what passed for "novel" length in those days, when only Heinlein could get anything over 180 pages published! It's also interesting to see how far our conceptions of what's possible has changed in so short a time. They had a faster-than-light drive and anti-gravity (!) but a computer that a modern science fiction writer would put in a refrigerator-sized box was thought to be the size of a planet!
Lindsay Brambles" review is probably about right, but you have to remember that Norton's books were aimed at younger readers, and they (and Heinlein's juveniles) were what hooked a lot of kids of my generation on science fiction. Also, if a lot of other SF of the period is similar to Norton's, it's because they were copying her! That said, "Plague Ship" is not as good as the novel to which it is a sequel: "Sargasso of Space," which I guess must not have fallen into public domain. Too bad. "Star Born" is also much inferior to "The Stars are Ours." I guess what I'm trying to say is that you have to put yourself in the mindset of a smart teenager from the 50s or 60s to really appreciate this kind of stuff, but they do bring back memories! Thanks.
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