Another year, another research paper. And once again, I did it on Brian Jacques (I go to a different school now, so it doesn't matter that I'm doing it again). A little more detailed this time, I had to read two of his books, do summaries and critiques of each and a compare/contrast paper, along with researching him.

Oh well. Here we go...

The Angel's Command, by Brian Jacques, is a sequel to a book about an immortal boy and his dog traveling the world to help people in need. Ben and his black Labrador Ned are castaways of the cursed pirate ship The Flying Dutchman. When an angel came to save them, they received eternal young age and the ability to speak to each other through telepathy. In the beginning, The Angel's Command is set in 1628 in a Cartagena sea port. Ben and Ned meet Captain Raphael Thuron of the ship La Petite Marie being cheated out of his gold by Rocco Madrid of the Diablo Del Mar. They help Thuron regain his money, then leave aboard his ship. Madrid gives chase, angry at being caught cheating. Once they are in the Caribbean Sea, Thuron sets sail for France, his homeland. On the way there, Captain Jonathan "Redjack" Teal, a British Privateer, also joins the chase for captain Thuron. After this, a long journey to France takes place, with the two pirate ships giving pursuit. Along the way, Rocco Madrid and his crew are killed on an island by a native tribe of people. When Teal and Thuron reach the coast of France, Thuron's ship is destroyed by the French navy, not knowing his peaceful intentions. Captain Teal and his crew are captured. Ben and Ned escaped and swam for the shore. When they arrived in France, they met Karay and Dominic, two orphans about Ben's age. They travel into town and met Comte Vincente Bregon. The Comte tells them of how his nephew Adamo was kidnapped by the Razan family, a long time rival of his. The trio (and Ned) promise to help him get his nephew back. They travel to the Razan hideout, free Adamo, and return to the Comte. In the end of the book, the Comte is very happy about having his nephew back. He also announced that he would adopt Ben and Ned as the children he never had. It is then that Ben realizes he and Ned have to leave. If they stayed, they would be watching their friends grow old and die while they never aged at all. Ben and Ned end up adrift at sea waiting for the angel's command, telling them where to go next with their adventures.

I think The Angel’s Command, by Brian Jacques, is a very good book. It has a lot of action, some mystery parts, and a very good plot. This is one of Jacques’ best books I have read. One of its strengths is the action. In the beginning, it has a lot of sea battles between the three ships. In the end, or second half, there is even more action when the main characters try to free Adamo from the Razan. I think the action really makes the book better. Another strength is the characters. They are very interesting, with good stories and feelings. Jacques really makes it so that you feel like you know them, and it is very sad when some of them die. One of the weaknesses is the originality. Most of the story was fine, but the author used some ideas he had used before, like how some of the characters meet. Another weakness is the plot. It was very good, but it almost completely changes in the middle. It almost seems like two separate books shoved together. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy adventure stories, but also, read the first one in the series before you read this.

Voyage of Slaves is the second book I read by Brian Jacques. It is the third and final book in the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. It is about Ben and his dog Ned, who are gifted with immortality and telepathy with each other, traveling the world giving help to those who need it. The book begins in 1703, Ben and Ned adrift in the Mediterranean. They are caught by slavers, and Ned is thrown overboard. Ben is brought to Al Misurata, the slave lord. He then meets the Rizzoli Entertaining Troupe, who were also captured, and is reunited with Ned after the troupe found him. However, the troupe does not know that Misurata is a slaver. He promises to take them to Italy, their homeland, under the cover that he is a horse trader. In reality, he plans to sell them into slavery along the way. Ben and Ned learn of the plot, but don’t tell the troupe, fearing that they would panic. A long sea journey begins, aboard Al Misurata’s ship, the Sea Djinn. Along the way, the Rizzoli troupe finds out about the plot. Ben and Ned escape so they can help their friends later. They travel from ship to ship, fleeing from Misurata. They eventually end up in Slovenija with Janos Cabar, a friend of captain of their last ship. They and Janos free the Rizzoli troupe, and take them to an abbey where they will be safe. However, Misurata gives chase. He attacks the abbey, but is killed in a fall off of a cliff. Ben then receives a message from the angel, telling him to leave; is help was no longer needed there. In the end, Ben and Ned are once more adrift at sea, waiting to find those in need.

Voyage of Slaves, by Brian Jacques, is a really good book. It has good characters and action, and is just as good as The Angel’s Command. The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series is definitely some of Jacques best books. One of the strengths and weaknesses is the characters. They are very detailed and realistic. However they are also a weakness because some characters that seemed important were not described very well. Another strength is the plot. It continued with the same idea through the whole story, and had very interesting parts. One of the weaknesses is the interest. In some parts, especially the beginning, it slows down a lot before it gets to the good parts. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the rest of the series, and definitely read the rest before this one. There are a lot of similarities and differences between The Angel’s Command and Voyage of slaves. A similarity is that both books keep the same main characters. Another is that both of them have long periods of time at sea. Another is that they are mostly in the same time period, only 75 years apart. The last similarity is that the main idea in both books is the same: traveling the world to help people. A difference is the characters. Even though they have the same main characters, they are the only two that are the same. Another difference is the setting. The two books happen in completely different places in the world. Another is the plot. Unlike most sequels, the plot changes between the two stories. The last difference is the plot structure. In The Angel’s Command, the plot changes almost completely in the middle. In Voyage of Slaves, it stays the same all the way through.

Of all the books I’ve read, Brian Jacques has written the best. During this project, I read two of his books, The Angel’s Command, published in 2003, and Voyage of Slaves, published in 2006. I chose him because I have read a lot f his books before, and already knew some things about him. In this project, I have learned even more.

Brian Jacques was born on June 15, 1939, in Liverpool, England. He lived there for all of his life, until he died this year on February 5. When he was young he went to St. John’s School, or St. John’s School for the Totally Bewildered, as he called it. He left when he was fifteen, to be a merchant seaman. He eventually became tired of the lonely life of a sailor and returned to Liverpool. He then had several other jobs such as a truck driver, bus driver, postmaster, comedian, and many more. If he had not become an author, Jacques would have wanted to be a film director or a tenor. The rest of his life was also very interesting.

Brian Jacques had a very complicated childhood as well. He was born right in the beginning of World War 2. Liverpool was constantly bombed. His family had little food. For fun, he and his brothers would go outside, gather shrapnel, and climb over roofs to sneak into movie theaters. In his later life, he had several other jobs, and eventually married and has two grown sons, Marc and David. However, that’s not everything about him.

There is a lot about Brian Jacques that cannot just be told in his life story. Some fun facts that I found were that his best school subject was English, his worst being Math. His favorite food is spaghetti. Before he wrote his books, he wrote as a poet, songwriter, columnist, and a playwright. One fact that really interested me was that his real name is James Brian Jacques. He used his middle name because both his father and his younger brother were both named James.

Brian Jacques wrote his first book, Redwall, for students at the Royal School for the Blind in Wavertree, Liverpool. He wanted to make it as descriptive and detailed as he could, so the blind students could see the world he created in their minds. His friend, Alan Durband, read it and showed it to a publisher without telling Brian. This started the contract for the first five books in the series. Since then, he has written 21 other Redwall books. For inspiration for all these books, Jacques enjoys walking through Liverpool and thinking. Some of his stories are based off of dreams, others are real adventures he’s had.

Brian Jacques has written 32 books, not counting books of short stories and poetry. Some of them have characters and plots based off of real people he knew, others thought up by him. He has won several awards for all of them. He won the Lancashire Libraries children’s book of the year award for Redwall, Mossflower, and Salamandastron, the Western Australian Young Readers award for Redwall, Mossflower, and Mattimeo, and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Redwall, Mossflower, Salamandastron, and Mattimeo. A lot of awards for only four of his books.

Over the years, I have read a lot of books (trust me, I read a lot) and none of the books I have read were as good as Brian Jacques’ books. Only one came close, and that had to be 1001 pages long to do it. If I don’t have anything to read, I will just reread something he’s written. Now I have learned not only about his books, but his life as well. He is, as I now know, not only an amazing writer, but an amazing man as well.

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