Benjamin Manry and the Crimson Journal
Reviewed by Fran Lewis
Let’s go back in time to 1763 with Benjamin Manry, his brother Harris and friend Sal and learn what happens when three young men start out on a hiking and fishing trip and wind becoming time travelers, catching notorious pirates and their leader Blood Bones and deciding to remain in that time period and become part of a crew on a ship. Captain Nelson has enlisted them as part of his crew and Ben is now first officer. He recounts in his journal log of June 8, 1763 how it all began why they wound up in this time period and where they are about to go. King George III has summoned them for another mission. This time it is not to go after a treasure or a pirate. Welcome to Colonial Times and the world of Benjamin Manry and the crew of the HMS Courtesy. Where will the seas take these brave young men and what will happen to them next? Joining Captain Arthur F. Nelson as privateers revisiting, staying in contact with their parents and the present world they decided to remain and try to save the world from pirates. But, this next mission would be quite different.
Go back in time to the 16th century and meet Sir Francis Drake whose mission it was to attack El Morro and gain control of the Spanish Fleet for Queen Elizabeth. But, when he did not focus on the mission what happened would not only cost him his ship but the treasure held within it. As we go back to the 18th century we learn more about how Blood Bones became whom he was and why he was placed in the El Morro dungeon. How he escaped and his story is going to be told. Flash ahead as Captain Nelson reads the journal of the young man who turned into Blood Bones as Benjamin and his friends are about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. The story continues with the journal of Blood Bones and what happens when he finally escapes after being betrayed by Father Saladino who took his prized possession.
However, in the present or our time, the parents of these three young men hang on to hope as they send the only proof of what may hold the key to a museum but what happens with these two items will enlighten the reader to a point but definitely keep you reading until the answers are found.
Let’s revisit 1751 and hear the voice of Blood Bones and learn his story and what really happened to cause on young man named Hernando to turn into a deadly and dangerous pirate. As Captain Nelson reads the entry in his journal and hears his voice as he learns of the tortures that befell this young man you learn just how far he would go to survive and those who would become part of his band of pirates.
King George III has invited Captain Nelson and his men to a banquet to celebrate the Summer Solstice. As the daughter of the Governor and the newly married bride of Captain Richard Highmore, Leah Williamson would attend this regal event. With the help of her maid, Eve, she would prepare for the night and even confide in her what she felt for one, Benjamin Manry. Preparing for the evening, thinking about him at dinner the week before images of this young man come into play as she remembers his face and she cannot forget her true feelings.
Intertwined in the plot are some navigational lessons our author shares as the Captain and his crew chart the course to England, log the coordinates as they travel the high seas and record their sightings and information in a journal allowing the reader to join in the journey along with these sailors. Our author teaches navigation at Suny Maritime and he shares his knowledge of the open waters with the reader as we take many of journeys along with Ben, Harris, Charles and Blood Bones.
When Leah realizes she will come face to face with Ben at this banquet she confides in Eve, her maid, and together they plan her appearance and decide on the course for the evening after Leah admits to herself and Leah her true feelings for Ben.
Before attending the party the Captain receives a package from the King and a letter requesting his presence to discuss his next mission. Included in this letter and package of information are the names George Grenville the Prime Minister of England, El Borrow and Loco, Captain Blood Bones and Blood Spot. The mystery of why and what he and his crew will be requested to do will amaze the reader and make you wonder why the King would request something so out of ordinary and mutinous.
However, sometimes choices are taken out of your hands and you have to complete what you have been enlisted to do. Fate sometimes rears its head and when Benjamin sees Leah after a long period of time the connection is still there but will it amount to anything? Leah is married to a Captain and although she knows her place will she keep her vows?
The four heroes meet with King George after the ceremony and light show conclude. The request took them by surprise but they had no choice but to agree. As the story continues we learn more about Blood Bones as the author shares his Crimson Journal with Captain Nelson and the reader and we have to decide whether this man’s fate was deserved, whether becoming a pirate was his only way out or whether the deceit, lies, murderous actions and violence were justified for what he relates in the journal or not?
Ben is enlisted to deliver a crucial note to a friend of Captain Nelson and here is where our story will take a different turn. However, what both Leah and Ben do not know is that another pair of eyes was upon them watching their every move. What will be their fate? What will be the outcome of the mission? As you learn more about Blood Bones and read his Crimson diary what conclusions will you draw?
When the four friends explore London they meet up with Leah, enjoy a game of cricket and only Ben notices a figure watching them. But, first we learned more about Blood Bones, his training to learn his destiny and prophecy and the magic he learned in order to defeat his foes. But, Blood Bones has a very strong voice, his agenda set within his mind and the time to carry it out given. Ben and his crew have their agenda set out but what they do not know is they are being overheard. What will the final outcome of their mission be and who is listening in and why? As Leah hopes to see Ben, Ben is having a day out with the King and Louisa. What happens is totally unexpected and the end result still uncertain. There are many plots that are being woven within this novel. As we learn of the revenge and bloodthirsty plot of Blood Bones we hear the voices of Ben and his crew planning another type of murderous act. In between we hear the voice of yet another that wants to take his vengeance out on Ben. But, what is the significance of the scarlet ring that Blood Bones requires to fulfill his destiny?
As the story draws to a temporary close the plan is executed and the end result will definitely surprise the reader as several lives are lost, some are saved but in a very unique and creative way. As deceptive as the plot and the treachery behind it so is the unexpected ending that the author presents for the reader. Three medallions, one staff, one crimson journal, one scarlet ring and many unanswered questions. Just what lies next for these time travelers and what lessons will they learn when the journey continues? What happens when Leah learns who is behind what happens to Ben and his friends? Will the King save them? Open the journal, read the entries, hear the voice of Blood Bones, remember the magic and remember your rescue lies within the pages of the Crimson Journal. To be remembered forever you must: “ Reach immortality, the stories of your name must be passed on, told to all: passerby, friend and foe. They, and only then, you will love forever.” The prophecy continues the journal has many more pages to read and the writer’s name has been passed on to many not just friend and foe. Welcome to the 18th century where pirates reigned, magical things happened, one King requested the unthinkable and revenge just might seem to win out. Conspiracy in the King’s Court or Justice: You decide!
Where will our time travelers finally wind up when the journey continues? Will they remain where they are or will the medallions and the author take them into yet another time period?
Characters that present viewpoints from two different time periods. Young men and women that teach lessons in manners, understanding, honesty and loyalty as well as one Pirate who will not be silenced as his thoughts and case are presented to the reader. Final outcome: Only the pages within the Crimson Journal knows and of course our author.
Fran Lewis: reviewer: This book gets Five Scarlet Rings for the next journey.
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A book by Beverly Swerling