“The Riddle of the Sands” – A Book Review

I’ve mentioned before that I like reading books that have been time-tested. “The Riddle of the Sands” by Erskine Childers is definitely that. Having been released in 1903, this novel has been popular for more than a hundred years.

The plot of this novel begins when the protagonist, Carruthers, a low level civil servant at the British Foreign Office accepts an invitation from an old yachting friend of his, Arthur Davies for what he is told is duck hunting along the East Prussian coast. However what appears to be a simple late-summer holiday turns into an adventure – because Davies is soon to reveal the real reason he called for his friend’s help; and it is much more sinister. They are together plunged into intrigue as the tensions which would plunge Europe into decades of war were beginning to make themselves known in this backwater on the North Sea.

This is an excellently written book. Despite being more than a hundred years old it is a fluid read; and especially for people who are interested in sailing (which I am not) they would find this book very engaging. I enjoyed the fact that, unlike modern “thrillers” or “spy novels” – which are action-oriented, heavy on excitement and weak on plot and personality, this book easily falls into the genre of literary fiction. The characters are rich, the plot is well developed and the author’s style is elaborate.

This probably isn’t a book I’d go out of my way to find – I grabbed it for free off a shelf somewhere. But I’m glad I read it; I learned a lot.  

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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