Men Against the Sea is the sequel to Mutiny on the Bounty, and it accomplishes an interesting feat. While Mutiny on the Bounty depicts Captain Bligh as an enraged and irrational task-master, Men Against the Sea shows him as a consummate navigator and an able leader.
The novel takes up where the mutineers put the more loyal men adrift in a small boat. They have very little food and water and only a small tool box and a few weapons. Nineteen men are crowded into the 23-foot-long open launch.
Although the men make their way at first to one of the nearby Friendly Islands (present-day Tonga), they come close to being killed there by hostile natives. In fact, one of their number is murdered while they make their escape. They realize they will have to travel 3600 miles to the nearest European-occupied territory, in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).
Narrated by Thomas Ledward, the ship’s surgeon, the novel tells the story of this incredible journey. The men fend off hostile natives, battle storms, and survive on scanty rations and little fresh water, lead on by Captain Bligh.
This novel is well written and engrossing, although it lacks the suspense of the trial in Mutiny on the Bounty. I am looking forward to the final book in the series.