Nick’s adventures continue. The Nazis have invaded France, Poland, Belgium, and Holland. England has declared war on Germany. Winston Churchill is the new Prime Minister of England. America has promised aid to England. And the first of four tiny Channel Islands has fallen to the Nazi invasion. Will Nick’s island be next? Not if he can help it!
With is friend Gunner’s help, Nick rebuilds the old Sopwith Camel biplane that his father flew in the first World War and learns to fly it—then stages a one-man, uh, one-boy bombing raid on the Nazi airbase on the neighboring island. He blows it sky-high.
Isn’t a twelve-year-old boy a little young for such an accomplishment? Don’t his parents know what he’s up to? Would the adults Gunner, Hobbes, and Lt. Hawke really condone, even aid, his involvement? Not where I come from! And perhaps not then, either, but sometimes we forget in our modern society that very, very young boys used to hunt, used to enlist as drummer boys, used to strike out on their own. And every war, it seems, draws boys as young as fifteen and sixteen who lie about their age and sneak into the ranks. Perhaps this isn’t quite as unrealistic as it seems at first glance. Either way, it’s fiction, and rousing good fiction. Quite appealing to today’s boys who don’t have such opportunities.
Not only is danger pouring in fast and strong in 1940, the pirate Billy Blood makes another appearance, and the action shifts to 1781. If you know your history at all, you realize what an extremely important year that was for the American colonies, for it brought about the surrender of General Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown and ended the Revolution. But Washington could not have led his troops to victory if the French Admiral Francois de Grasse had not cut off Cornwallis’s retreat. And wouldn’t you know it? Billy Blood has it in for de Grasse. He’s amassed a huge pirate armada to ambush the Admiral on his way to the Chesapeake Bay to assist Washington. When Nick finds out, he realizes that if Washington doesn’t win at Yorktown, there will be no America to come to England’s rescue in 1940. He aims to make sure that happens.
I really enjoy all the history in these books. They’re very unique in that Nick finds himself in the thick of action in World War Two as well as at some important points in the past. In this case, readers gets a first-hand look at the Battle of Yorktown and many of its key players. Shucks, Nick is running messages for them! That is, when he’s done blowing up pirate ships.
I must issue a word of caution. There are a lot of mild profanities. Billy Blood has a foul mouth. Of course it’s much tamer than reality, but he’s quite consistent. And book two seemed to me a little more graphically violent than the first–violence Nick is actively participating in. He strafes Nazi officers who “slump over.” He guns down an Indian who is attacking him. Gunner shoots a pirate in the temple. There are several scenes where “blood pools around his boots,” or something similar. And there are also many third person descriptions of the violence of war: the Nazi bombing of a port city, the shooting of 400 starving horses, the dismembered and unburied dead lying about Yorktown.
The Time Pirate is not for the young or squeamish. It’s right on the edge, but I would let it slide for my own kids once they reached twelve-years-old. It’s certain to please today’s boys who still dream of becoming heroes.