My First Five Years at Sea by John M. Tabor – Book Review

My First Five Years at Sea and Other Tall Tales by John M. Tabor
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My First Five Years at Sea and Other Tall Tales by John M. Tabor

“My First Five Years at Sea” focuses on a coming of age story about a young man from Kansas. Set in the 1930’s his life is full of hope, a rare commodity given that the world is plunged into the Great Depression. He receives a scholarship to MIT and is ready to embark on his great adventure….only thing is no one knows exactly how big an adventure it will be. Before he can matriculate, he is shanghaied by a female pirate and is forced into indentured servitude aboard a rum runner. His life is first stolen, then over the course of exploits cast upon the ocean, is found again. During his travels, he is accompanied by a man who becomes his friend, guardian, and we learn at the end of the story is in fact a man of a surprisingly different nature. Throughout the book there are many historical references, some intentionally distorted in order to connect the dots of the storyline in a plausible and entertaining style. Allure of the sea has been an inspiration in the writing of this book, and readers can expect to find numerous references to its many faces and to those who have made it their home.

Artisan Book Reviews

In the adventurous historical novel, My First Five Years at Sea and Other Tall Tales by John M. Tabor, a promising student destined to become a scientist is abducted and forced into becoming a seaman.

James Tyler’s dreams of joining MIT and earning a degree in science vanish when Anne Bonny, a daring pirate, kidnaps him and adopts him as part of her ship’s crew. Aboard Revenge, James is introduced into the risky, unpredictable life of a seaman. As the captain, Anne stirs the ship across different seas to manage and advance her bootlegging business. The story’s backdrop involves the shifting political landscape of the 1930s.

Revenge’s crew is comprised of intriguing misfits and each has their story: Samuel is a fugitive and a former Maasai warrior, Ishmael, who was once involved in his father’s whaling business, ends up as part of Anne’s crew after a fatal brawl, Callum is a Scottish man whose Scottish Gaelic lingo can only be understood and translated by Samuel, Banes is their surly chef with a bitter and traumatic childhood, and Captain Bonny’s namesake, Anne Bonny, was an infamous 1700s, Irish pirate. There are many other colorful characters who are featured in the novel. Throughout their journeys, the crew encounters many life-threatening scenarios. Riveting scenes of run-ins with other criminals, attacks from monstrous sea creatures, adverse weather conditions that threaten to sink the ship, and possibly being apprehended by coast guards on patrol, all add exciting scenes to the book. James Tyler narrates the story. His initial naïve perspective and continuous humorous storytelling enliven the novel. The story is expanded by well-researched informative historical and geographical details. Samuel, who has the gift of prophecy, foresees future events including the rise of Nazism and Hitler’s totalitarian rule. Historical events such as the Irish Republican Army’s fight against British rule and the reigns of various presidents such as that of Venezuelan president, Juan Vicente Gómez, are woven into the characters’ adventures.

There are many thrilling scenes and exhilarating intriguing events in this extraordinary, exciting and compelling novel. Every chapter contains new and exciting scenes. The characters are also eccentric and interesting. John M. Tabor’s witty coming-of-age novel, My First Five Years at Sea and Other Tall Tales, records a young man’s wild adventures at sea in a incredible, well-written and astonishing must read story that comes recommended  by Artisan Book Reviews. Book reviewed by Edith Emunah on 21/10/2021

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