Review of The Sea-god at Sunrise by G.L. Tysk – Amazon Book Review
A masterfully written tale of two young Japanese boys, Shima and his little brother Takao–shipwrecked on an isolated island after a terrible typhoon. Left to die, their story may have ended when the crew of an American whaling ship finds them by chance and takes them on board. Unfortunately it is 1841 and Japan and America are at war which complicates the rescue mission–the boys can no longer land on Japanese soil having now been on board an enemy ship. The boys have no choice but to sail with the Americans to the South Pacific for a whale hunting expedition. Shima resists his rescuers’ attempts to help—he was taught that foreigners were devils so he naturally does not trust them and being homesick does not help matters. However, little Takao picks up the English language quickly, having a natural talent for learning dialects even back in their village when pilgrims would pass through. Unlike his older brother, Takao embraces the adventure and the opportunity of being on board a big ship.
The story telling is interesting in that it is told through the eyes of Shima and Takao with the following chapter told in the perspective of Daniel Ellis, third mate continuing consecutively in this fashion through to the ending. It was refreshing in that I saw the whole story in both perspectives– as a young Japanese stowaway aboard a ship among foreigners who look and speak funny with no chance of going home; and as one of the crew members; you learn about their attitudes about each other, their feelings towards the Japanese, the war and their profession.
Author Tysk brings to the story a true sea adventure. Her words paint in detail the sights, sounds and smells of the ship, the crew. She also describes the whaling industry and the people whose professions and career depend on it. The elaborate detail helped me, someone who knows little about ships or whaling, to understand and learn about what is involved in the profession. I enjoyed following the journey on the ocean with Shima and Takao, Captain Noble, Ellis, Clarke and the others while they encountered many events, some inspirational and others horrific and tragic. A great book for those who enjoy reading epic novels, sea adventures, cultural stories and history. For those interested in learning about the whaling industry, through the eyes of those in the profession, this is definitely a must read.
Find the The Sea-God at Sunrise on Amazon and GoodReads.com.
My rating is 4/5 stars