After years of war Great Britain and France strike an uneasy peace. Their treasuries are empty; their armies and navies reduced to impotence. Pirates terrorize the Caribbean. It is the zenith of their power . . . and the beginning of the end.
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The winds of change sweep across the Caribbean like summer squalls.
Desperate to secure her valuable West Indies colonies from marauding freebooters and thwart a clandestine French bid for Caribbean hegemony, Great Britain determines to crush piracy and foil French designs without risking a war she cannot afford.
Sensing the end of the old lawless era, Esau Jessup, quartermaster of the pirate sloop Sweet Alice, buys a pardon from a corrupt island governor and tries to find his own redemption in the arms of May Meehan, an indentured servant he’s rescued from Edward “Blackbeard” Teach.
Despite his efforts, Jessup is drawn into the gathering maelstrom when Gentleman Davy Fletcher, his charismatic but volatile friend and captain, is captured by a British frigate sent to intercept the Aurora, a French slave ship smuggling gold from Africa to Martinique. Sweet Alice’s pirates have already seized the slaver but are unaware of the immense golden treasure concealed aboard.
With British and French warships stalking Sweet Alice and her fabulous prize, Fletcher drifts into madness as Jessup searches for a way out of the rovers’ life. Their climactic confrontation on a lonely beach brings Europe’s two great powers to the brink of war and changes the destiny of empires.
Drawing on years of historical research, Ronin of the Seas is rich in the gritty sights and smells of the pirates’ world afloat and ashore. Set amid the tumultuous 18th-century Cold War between France and Great Britain, this tale of the Sweet Alice and her swaggering crew, the Bully Boys, drives relentlessly from the glittering intrigues of Versailles and Britain’s stuffy halls of power to Africa’s infamous Slave Coast; from the rawboned Carolina frontier to the tropical paradise of Nassau, the freewheeling pirates’ home port.
The greatest rovers of the time – Charles Vane, Henry Jennings, Benjamin Hornigold and Blackbeard – unwittingly cross swords and match wits with some of Europe’s most powerful and historically improbable figures: King George I of England – “German George,” who loathes all things British and refuses to speak the language; Louis XV, the seven-year-old King of France; one-time privateer Woodes Rogers, sent to restore order in the Bahamas; and fugitive Scottish financier John Law, who invents “junk bonds” to finance his vision of French global economic domination.
Ronin of the Seas melds the irresistible romance of the Caribbean swashbucklers with the stark realism of the freebooters’ tenuous, brutal, often extravagant existence against a backdrop of 18th-century realpolitik.