Bernard Cornwell


Book review by Anthony Campbell. Copyright © Anthony Campbell (1999).

Bernard Cornwell is probably best known for his historical novels about military history, describing the adventures of soldiers in the American Civil War and in the Napoleonic campaigns, but this book is a thriller with a contemporary setting. It is told in the first person by Tim Blackburn, a former round-the-world solo yachtsman who now owns a boatyard. At the beginning of the novel his yacht is blown up by a bomb with his wife on board. This the third tragedy in his life; a few years earlier his son, a soldier, was killed in Northern Ireland and his daughter, a headstrong and difficult girl, has taken off on a boat with a German environmentalist who is the autocratic leader of a group whose activities border on terrorism. Nothing has been heard from the girl for several years although Tim has occasionally seen her picture in the news when she has been taking part in actions in various parts of the world.

Tim buys a yacht, the Stormchild of the title, and sets out to search for his daughter. He traces Genesis, the organization she has joined, to Patagonia, and he goes there to try to bring her back. But this involves him in a desperate struggle, ultimately for his life.

Cornwell excells in the description of action, and there is plenty of that; not only physical conflict and gunfire, but also a lot of struggling against the elements at sea; the book ends in a dramatic encounter at Cape Horn. But it's a superior thriller, with well-realized characters and a strong element of moral conflict, as Tim tries to resist the dawning realization that his beloved daughter is far from the innocent idealist he at first believes her to be.

%T Stormchild
%A Cornwell, Bernard
%I Penguin Books
%C London
%D 1991
%P 474 pp
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