This is the second book in Richard Woodman’s trilogy about William Kite and the sequel to The Guineaman. The action in The Privateersman takes place at the beginning of the American Revolution. William Kite is now a widower, a ship-owner, and exiled from Liverpool, where Puella died of grief over their son’s death from cholera and Kite’s trading partners betrayed him. Even though he has been cheated, he is still pretty well-off financially.
Kite goes to the West Indies where he re-establishes his business. Then he goes on to America and to Rhode Island in the wake of the burning of the revenue cutter Gaspee, an incident that exacerbates crown vs. colonies tension. After old friend Arthur Tyrrell is lynched for crown sympathies, Kite undertakes to marry his appealing widow, Sarah, and avenge himself on the rebels for the loss of his ship. To do that, he shall be forced to fight for his fortune and his life.
The William Kite trilogy is quite interesting. Richard Woodman is an excellent writer and deep knowledge of maritime history. I liked this second book better than the first. William Kite is a very well-developed character and a likeable hero – he comes across as a “real person”, without any amazing or incredible skills or as being infallible. Also, it was interesting to read a novel where the main character is a businessman rather than a naval officer. Woodman’s perspective on the American “rebels” or “patriots” (depending on point of view) is also interesting. The Privateersman is relatively dark, but with some lighter moments. It’s also very realistic – at times it feels perhaps a little too much so. Overall The Privateersman is a nice, entertaining, and interesting novel which I recommend.