Margaret Muir’s novel, Floating Gold, was recently released in paperback. A great read, we never though that it got the attention that it deserved. Here is a repost of our review from May of 2010:
Margaret Muir’s new novel, Floating Gold, is a wonderful blend of classic Georgian naval fiction, a mystery/thriller and a grand treasure hunt. A rousing tale, well told.
Captain Oliver Quintrell is on the beach, both literally and figuratively. Recently released from Greenwich Hospital after recovering from injuries related to a “direct contact with a four pound cannon ball,” he finds himself without a commission in a world briefly at peace following the signing of the Treaty of Amiens in 1802. He is therefore pleased to be given the command HMS Elusive, a frigate on a secret mission with sealed orders bound for an island near the bottom of the world. Along the way they encounter storms, calm, murder, and sabotage until they finally arrive at the island, which itself may be the greatest threat of all to survival of the ship and crew. Hidden on the island is a vast, yet mysterious treasure that Captain Quintrell, his officers and crew must find and carry back to England.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Captain Quintrell and Will Ethridge, a young apprentice shipwright, who arrives aboard the Elusive quite by accident. The shift in perspective balances the world aft and forward of the mast nicely. All of the characters will be familiar to readers of naval fiction and yet felt fresh and individual.
Margaret Muir is no stranger to square-rigged ships and it shows in her writing. The scenes aboard ship feel right. They have an authenticity in the small idiosyncratic details she deftly adds. Muir has also visited the mysterious and dangerous island that plays such a central role in the story. Her background and travels help bring the novel together, giving a sense of reality to the fantastic scenes she describes.
Floating Gold is a well paced and vividly drawn tale of adventure in the high latitudes and on the high seas. Highly recommended.