Go Saddle the Sea

Go Saddle the Sea

by Joan Aiken

Felix Brooke, the orphaned son of an English soldier and an aristocratic Spanish mother, has been raised in the strict, love household of his grandfather in Villaverde, Spain.

  • Series: Felix Brooke
  • Language: English
  • Category: Historical
  • Rating: 3.94
  • Pages: 384
  • Publish Date: May 1st 2007 by HMH Books for Young Readers
  • Isbn10: 0152060642
  • Isbn13: 9780152060640

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I especially loved the main character in this first book--so delightfully naughty.

This series is just great for tween readers and I loved it at age 32. While the third book in the series isn't as thrilling/awesomely good, just get all three--they should be together.

Initially Felix recalls Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island in that there is a document (a letter from his father in place of the map of Stevensons novel) which initiates a quest from home to a port and thence by sea to the sought destination. However, the text that may have most influenced the plot of Go Saddle the Sea is arguably Northanger Abbey, by the author who shared the same initials as Joan Aiken. Aiken proposes that the first draft of this novel, originally titled Susan, was unbeknown to Austen actually published, a treasured copy finding its way to Spain via his Felixs father. Both novels start from the protagonists fictional home, Fullerton in Wiltshire for the tomboy Catherine and Villaverde in Galicia for Felix. The second volume of Austens novel then takes us to the fictional Gloucestershire residence of Northanger Abbey where Catherines expectations are finally overturned, not least by the boorish behaviour of General Tilney and her enforced return to Fullerton. At the end of Go Saddle the Sea Felix is no less disappointed by his reception by the Duke of Wells and Taunton at the fictional Asshe House, setting the scene for a planned return to Galicia in the sequel. (There is also, as Aiken will have known, a village called Ashe, the neighbour of Steventon where Austen revised Northanger Abbey.) Of course modern Bristol also encompasses Blaise Austens Blaize Castle, the folly that Austen mentions early on in her novel though planned visits there never materialise, and so her concept of Asshe may be another way of referencing the earlier novel by choosing a similar setting.

I read every Joan Aiken book I could find when I was 10-12 years old. I have to credit Joan Aiken with contributing to my expansive vocabulary (that I mostly only use for reading).

This first book in the Felix Brooke series tells a story with a logical ending point but obviously has more of Felix's adventures to tell in the rest of the series. Felix frequently prays to God and gives thanks for the divine help he receives which in other stories would just be called coincidence. He becomes fast friends with Sam who is one big help on his journey.

Joan Aiken was a much loved English writer who received the MBE for services to Children's Literature. She was born in Rye, East Sussex, into a family of writers, including her father, Conrad Aiken (who won a Pulitzer Prize for his poetry), and her sister, Jane Aiken Hodge. Aiken's father, Conrad Aiken, also authored a small number of notable ghost stories.