Books reviewed by Paul TalbotShip Kings The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan 

Ship Kings
The Coming of the Whirlpool

by Andrew McGahan
published by Allen and Unwin
RRP $22.99
(289pp; 210mm x 140mm)

Andrew McGahan is an Australian author of some note, who, over the last 20 years or so, has lined up for and received some of Australia’s highest accolades for writers of fiction. His first book, Praise, picked up the Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 1992 and The White Earth won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, among other awards, in 2004. And now he offers Ship Kings, destined for a multi book series, to a younger audience.

As foretold in the pre-amble, the book and the series is about the sea and sailors. But it is neither of a time nor people with whom any reader will be familiar. The immediate world is known as the “Four Isles” and the power structure lies in the hands of the Ship Kings. Enter our hero, Dow Amber, who is promised to have a great and interesting future, even though he was not born to the sea.

This introduction will tantalise the young reader to travel further into the book to find out more about Dow, who as it turns out, is the son of a woodsman, born a long way from the sea, with very different ideas about what his future might be. A passing glimpse of the ocean sets him on a course far different from that which he and his family had envisaged.

Ship Kings – The Coming of the Whirlpool is a rite of passage tale, which sees Dow Amber break with tradition to go off pursuing a youthful urge. Indulged by his parents, Dow travels to the key seaport of his homeland, New Island. He takes up lodgings with a foster father who, by any measure, would not have passed any DOCS investigation. Still, the man is a fisherman who will teach Dow his trade and pit him against all the sea has to offer.

In a chapter echoing loudly Edgar Allan Poe’s A Descent into the Maelstrom, Dow Amber battles with the sea and the Whirlpool of the title, showing all his mastery of his craft and establishing his reputation as a mariner. In a high tension battle his foster father pursues his own demons, creating great excitement and exhilaration.

The other support characters of the book add plenty of interest: the wizened, blind crone who sits over her drink in the local, predicting all manner of doom; the kindly bartender, with his own dose of guilt; and, the first Ship King Captain that Dow meets to start him on his seafaring way.

Andrew McGahan builds this story gradually and launches into tense drama to excite the juices of a young reader (probably an early teenager, but who can tell after the Harry Potter phenomenon). With luck, the second book will not be long in coming.

Linky’s Beach Days by Graham Link 

Linky’s Beach Days

by Graham Link
RRP $25.00 (108pp; 135mm x 230mm)

Listening to the dulcet tones of Wendy Harmer and Angela Catterns on breakfast radio brought to light this book by Graham Link. No, it is not a book about how Graham spent his balmy, summer holiday one year. It is a comprehensive guide to the 104 beaches on the Sydney coast line, which Graham has discovered and frequented over the years.

Graham Link told the two ABC broadcasters of some of the exotic and beautiful beaches that Sydney possesses and encouraged people to get out to see. From Gunya Beach in the North to Gunyah Beach in the South, this little book shows their location, how to get there, what’s there in the way of amenities and some nice little snaps.

Buy it on Ebay or go to Graham’s web site at