The novel begins when Van Weyden is swept overboard into San Francisco Bay, and plucked from the sea by Larsen’s seal-hunting vessel, the Ghost. This ship’s evil captain, Wolf Larsen – The Sea-Wolf – is a murderous tyrant who uses his superhuman strength to torture and destroy, his brilliant mind to invent sick games, and his relentless will to control his mutinous crew. Pressed into service as a cabin boy by the ruthless captain, Van Weyden becomes an unwilling participant in a brutal shipboard drama. Larsen’s increasingly violent abuse of the crew fuels a mounting tension that ultimately boils into mutiny, shipwreck, and a desperate confrontation.
Having just read and enjoyed Treasure Island, I was definitely looking for something similar so I browsed all the classics that I’ve downloaded onto my Kobo and The Sea Wolf caught my eye. It wasn’t what I expected though!
The Sea Wolf is the story of Humphrey Van Weyden, a gentleman who becomes shipwrecked and is rescued by the sealing schooner, The Ghost. Rather than being dropped at the nearest port, he is put to work as cabin boy under Captain Wolf Larsen, who is known as one of the meanest captains in the sealing industry. Who he discovers is much more than simply a cruel man though and through his own intellect and previous study, he is able to connect with Wolf unlike any other person has before.
I quite liked Humphrey. At first i found him to be a bit insufferable however he soon got over himself and embraced his circumstances to the best of his ability. I respected him all the more with how hard he worked and the strength of character that he developed was very satisfying. Wolf Larsen was a completely fascinating character. I could not bring myself to hate him despite his evil ways. I found it hard to love Miss Brewster however i had to remind myself of the era in which she came from and when in context, she showed a lot of courage and bravery.
This book is not just a “sea faring tale”. The philosophical aspects it explores are intense and extremely challenging to one’s ideals. As i had no idea that the book involved any of that, i was a little bit unprepared however soon adjusted.
I enjoyed the basic story and adventure and i felt that it was written at quite an even pace. I did find it ended quite abruptly however really, it ended as it should have.
Overall it was an extremely well written book twisting adventure with philosophy. It certainly isn’t for the fainthearted of words and if you think, like i did, that it’s another “Treasure Island” – think again. This is more like a Tolstoy crossed with Treasure Island! I would definitely recommend this as a great classic and if you like stories that actually have a bit of substance to them.