Tuesday, 16 June 1998

Jeffery Farnol: Martin Conisby's Vengeance (1934)

Edition: Pan, 1970
Review number: 68

This is, of course, the sequel to Black Bartelmy's Treasure, and continues the swashbuckling adventures of Martin Conisby in the Caribbean. At the start of the book, Martin is stranded on his desert island once again. This time, he is alone, until the pirate lass Joanna is stranded there too. (This deserted island seems to get as much traffic as the Pool of London.)

She of course falls in love with Martin, though he spurns her in memory of his beloved, Joan, daughter of his hereditary enemy, Richard Brandon. Joanna, as a pirate cheif and beautiful woman, is not accustomed to rejection, and in a fit of anger destroys the boat he has been making to escape from the island (and her importunities).

Martin continues to resist Joanna even after they are picked up by her pirate crew, and he makes his escape as they are engaged with an English ship. This ship turns out to be commanded by his old friend Adam Penfeather, and has Joan aboard. They take Joanna captive, sinking her ship, and she claims that she is pregnant with Martin's child, thus causing Joan to turn away from him.

Still obsessed with his desire for revenge on Richard Brandon, Martin leaves the ship to head into the mainland and to the dungeons of the Spanish Inquisition, where he should be able to find him.

As you would expect, Martin is captured by the Inquisition, and is imprisoned in the same cell as Richard Brandon. The changes wrought upon Brandon in the years he has spent in the cell mean that he is now a gentle, humble man full of remorse for the way he treated Martin and his father in years past. The meeting with Richard finally persuades Martin that revenge is hollow; nothing he can now do could make his enemy suffer more than he has already, and the enemy is not the same person that he was when he committed great injustices against Martin.

Martin Conisby's Vengeance is a better book than Black Bartlemy's Treasure, thanks mainly to the interest of Richard Brandon's character - he is much less two-dimensional than most of Farnol's creations.

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