Barbary Slave follows the adventures of American sailor James Cathcart as his ship is taken by Barbary pirates and he spends the following eleven years as a slave of the Dey of Algiers while American politicians refuse to pay ransom.
The book is largely set ashore as Cathcart works his way through the slave hierarchy and his character is used to explore the interaction between Christian slaves and their Muslim captors both at the local level and in international diplomacy. It also brings out the internal tensions in the region between the Turks and the various Arab factions.
In reading age of sail fiction you frequently come across sections about the Barbary pirates and whilst there is little sea action in the book, this is to some extent it’s attraction as I enjoyed the insight this detailed study of the realities of both life ashore as a slave and of the situation from the point of view from the Dey of Algiers gave me.
The book had good characterisations and the various aspects of the plot were brought together in a well written and well paced narrative that was good to read. Recommended.