A boy, unable to speak since birth, while fleeing from his tormentors, hides onboard a ship, not knowing that it will sail at dawn. He is taken as a galley boy and for months is witness to the greed and cruelty of the entire crew. His only friend is a black labrador. At last, when the Flying Dutchman reaches the dreaded Cape Horn in the worst of midwinter, all of Captain Vanderdecken’s wickedness brings the curse of the Lord upon him and all aboard—dooming them to sail the waters of the world for eternity. But because of the boy and the dog’s innocence of heart, they are granted life, boundless youth, understanding, and the ability to communicate. They are destined to roam the world forever, giving aid and comfort wherever it’s needed. Ben and Ned set out on their eternal journey, and their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a small town in England whose very existence is at stake. There are clues to be solved, but time is running out.
Brian Jacques took an existing legend about “a ship that was doomed to sail the world forever” and made that the basis for this wonderful book. He gives new meaning to the legend and the emotional impact is unforgettable. It makes for a very fascinating story, and there’s also a good balance. I mean, despite the intensity of the first part, the majority of the book is about the village and the adventures there.
Written on the side between Redwall books,Castaways of the Flying Dutchman also has a sequel: The Angel’s Command. And more recently, a third book: Voyage of Slaves.