The edge is off Cutlass Empire

During the 1600s, England, France, and Spain struggled for world domination. Intrigues in the European courts had effects around the globe. F. Van Wyck Mason takes readers back to that time with Cutlass Empire, a based on the true story of a privateer who became governor of Jamaica.

The novel is a swashbuckler whose swash has long since buckled.

Washed up — literally — on a Caribbean island, Harry watches helplessly as Spaniards torture and murder. Harry determines to get revenge and make his fortune doing it.

He takes commissions from the British or French to attack Spanish shipping. But land fighting, not sea battles, are Harry’s forte.

Seeing that England needs only control a few critical islands to keep Spain from exploiting all her New World possessions, Harry goes for the kill.

In 1670, he marches his ruffians across the Isthmus of Panama and captures Panama City — months after England and Spain have penned a peace treaty.

Harry’s brilliant campaign was a criminal act.

Mason has written an historical novel with emphasis on history. The plot feels threadbare. The main characters are shallow creatures from romance novels.

If Mason had attempted a narrower story, he might have achieved a far better novel.

Cutlass Empire
F. Van Wyck Mason
Doubleday, 1949
396 pages
1949 Bestseller # 8
My Grade: C-
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I'm passionate about helping people learn through the medium of nonfiction writing. Although I occasionally have an idea of my own, I mostly build education tools by recycling and repurposing other folks' ideas.

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