Book review

The House of Windjammer by V A Richardson (2003)

What qualities does it take to be a leader of men, do you think? And are leaders born, or do they grow into the role by force of circumstances?

Take the head of the House of Windjammer, for instance. He's a boy. Adam. He's not a leader though. Not at first anyway. In a bad week for the Windjammers Adam loses his uncle Lucien and the Star Fleet carrying the whole family fortune, and then his father:

Adam opened the box to find his father's ring inside. He picked it up between his thumb and forefinger. The cold flicker of the lightning caught on the symbol of the globe etched into the gold.
'It is the ring of the House of Windjammer,' his mother said quietly. 'It was your father's ring and his father's before him. Now it is yours by right. Put it on!'
Adam hesitated. His mother nodded her encouragement. Adam slipped the ring on to the ring-finger of his left hand, only to find it was too big.
'You see,' she said softly. 'It's a man's ring and, like the House of Windjammer, it does not fit a boy well. That's why you must be patient. That's why you must learn from Gerrit. And in time you will grow into them both.'

But time is something the House of Windjammer cannot allow Adam. Their trading debts are called in and the House faces ruin. Adam must parley with his father's old enemy, the banker Hugo van Helsen, and honour his father's final promise to his men. Who is Adam to trust at this precarious time? Of course he can rely on his mother. But what of his weak-willed uncle Augustus? And Gerrit, the clerk?

And there's someone else, too, confusing Adam. There's Jade van Helsen. Adam would like to hate her as much as he hates her father, the banker, but it doesn't quite seem to work that way. He's got to grow up fast, choose his allies and lead the House of Windjammer out of trouble, if he can:

He reached for the ring on the chain around his neck - the symbol of the House of Windjammer - but found little comfort there. It only seemed to weigh heavier on him, leaving him breathless. And for the first time in his life Adam knew what it meant to feel true loneliness.

Set in Amsterdam during the tulip mania of the seventeenth century. I really enjoyed the melodrama of this book. There's loyalty and treachery, and a fabulous fortune just out of reach. Read it. I think you'll love it!

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this book, look out for the next one! The House of Windjammer is Book I of a promised sequence.

It's a great adventure story, but it is also a historical novel set in seventeenth century Holland, with a flavour of the sea about it. If this is the kind of book you like to read I think you might be interested to look at this High Seas Adventure trilogy by Iain Lawrence:

Or, if you really fancy the intrigue and treachery, and don't mind if the history isn't terribly accurate, I think you will love the Stravaganza books by Mary Hoffman. They are brilliant time-slip adventure stories:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

The House of Windjammer features in these lists: