RogerBW's Blog

The Pirates in the Deep Green Sea, Eric Linklater 04 June 2021

1949 children's fantasy. Timothy and Hew live on Popinsay Island with their father, a retired naval captain, and help look for the pirate ship reputed to have been wrecked nearby. But soon they will get involved in larger adventures…

It's whimsical, and mostly in a good way. All the drowned sailors live on eternally under the sea. Davy Jones is in charge of the good ones, and the bad ones are the pirates. Most sea creatures are at least a bit intelligent, and some can take sides; humans travel by whale-howdah. The pirates' dastardly plan is to replace the knots that join the parallels of latitude and longitude together (and thus hold the continents in place) with their own better knots, and everyone else agrees that this would be a Bad Thing in some way never clearly specified.

It's charming, and often delightful, and occasionally funny (though quite often in a cruel way). There's a through-line plot (mostly) but really it's more of a picaresque, an excuse to meet the people, creatures and places under the sea; there's not a great deal of suspense or rising tension. There's very little more to the story than is immediately apparent, though, and it should certainly be approached in a child's mind-set rather than as something written to appeal to adults as well.

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  1. Posted by John Dallman at 06:55pm on 04 June 2021

    I read this at age 10 or 12, which was probably about right. It's enjoyable, but The Wind on the Moon has more to it.

  2. Posted by John P at 07:49pm on 04 June 2021

    Yes, I think I was about 10 when I read it too. They ate blocks of fish paste of different flavours and stayed in huge conch shells.

    I looked in on the other day and an article about spherical spaceships reminded me of another book from about that time of my life - "Threshold of the Stars" by Paul Berna. It's about a kid growing up at a French space agency where his dad works.

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