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The Dark Frigate

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  1,596 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
In seventeenth century England, a terrible accident forces orphaned Philip Marsham to flee London in fear for his life. Bred to the sea, he signs on with the "Rose of Devon," a dark frigate bound for the quiet shores of Newfoundland.

Philip's bold spirit and knowledge of the sea soon win him his captain's regard. But when the "Rose of Devon" is seized in midocean by a devio
Paperback, 264 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published March 1st 1924)
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The Giver by Lois LowryHoles by Louis SacharA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Most Deserving Newbery
83rd out of 96 books — 2,536 voters
The Giver by Lois LowryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleHoles by Louis SacharNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Newbery Medal Winner Books
83rd out of 95 books — 304 voters

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Community Reviews

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Having won the Newbery Medal for children's literature in the 1920's, it certainly wouldn't be considered children's literature today. Complete with murdering pirates and filled with rather violent action, it reads more like an adventure/action novel, and may I add, a very good one. It may be my favorite Newbery Medal book to date.

1924 Newbery Medal winner.
mitchell k dwyer
Mar 28, 2008 mitchell k dwyer rated it really liked it
As of March 27, 2008, I have now read (and collected data from) something like seventy of the eighty-eight winners of the Newbery Medal. When I set out to read them all, I dreaded the older books, for it was my impression that the early honorees were "good for you" books, and not necessarily good literature. For the most part, this has proven true (See Ginger Pye, Smoky the Cow Horse, Miss Hickory, and Invincible Louisa.

How pleasantly surprised I was by Charles Boardman Hawes's The Dark Frig
Jun 06, 2015 Anita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-medals
1924 Newbery Medal Winner. The Dark Frigate is my third Newbery Medal book as I attempt to read my way through them all from the first. It is a historical fiction set around the time of the English civil war about a 19 your old boy, Philip Marsham, who gets caught up with pirates. I must admit that I had a rough start of it. First I could not find a kindle edition, so I got a free audible trial. I am not used to being read to, and sometimes my ears don't hear well. Combine this with the older ...more
Mar 12, 2008 Derrick rated it liked it
Shelves: yafiction, newberys
I believe the correct phrase is "a rollicking good yarn."
1924 Newbery Medal Winner

I was intrigued about reading this book. I was looking for a copy of it online, thinking it might be old enough to be public domain (it's not, a few years and it will be). My husband happened to find some reviews of it with parents saying they wouldn't let their children read it because of the violence in the book. Made me want to read it even more.

I will first say that the English in the book is written in an older style. Even though this book is almost a century old, i
Aug 12, 2016 Kristen rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery-winners
Newbery Medal Winner--1924

Once you get past the outdated language and sailor speak, this book has some rousing adventure and intrigue. The problem is, I'm not a big fan of pirate tales, so even then the appeal for me was only so-so. The ending in particular grabbed my attention--once the focus came back to Phillip and his plans for escape. I can see why a story like this was popular in its time, but I need a little bit more in my adventure stories.
Jun 28, 2008 Wendy rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery
The story was OK, especially in the middle, but I can only assume the Committee was looking for something very different in its early years. Other reviewers seemed to find the prose clear and lyrical; I thought it was unnecessarily dense and convoluted.
Feb 05, 2011 Jen rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery, kids, 2008
The son of a pirate-type goes sailing across the sea, encounters various men of honor and dishonor, survives more than a few scrapes with death, and in so doing becomes a man. There. The Dark Frigate in a nutshell.

It isn't much to say that I liked the story better than my fellow readers. It was a long read and a somewhat pieced together story with a few highlights here and there. I got my hopes up in chapter 6 when Hawes introduced some lovely forboding descriptions of The Rose of Devon (the pi
Phil Jensen
Aug 13, 2016 Phil Jensen rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery
Ar! Want to read a salty sea tale? Are you over 30? Then dig this one up!

Why won't children read this book? Is it boring?
No. There is action and adventure from page one.

Is it too violent?
I don't think so. If you're old enough to follow it, then you're old enough for the violence. It is less disturbing than many others in the genre, such as The Slave Dancer and My Brother Sam Is Dead. Really, if I read a pirate story without some spurting blood, I feel cheated.

Is the main character too passive?
Mar 14, 2012 Aimee rated it it was ok
My biggest fear right now as I write about these books, is that I will maintain and perhaps expand my reputation as a whiner. I don’t WANT to whine, but I cannot praise this book. My kids can praise it, I think. I was so busy reading it (or trying to) that they got lots of extra computer time in order for me to bribe them into leaving me alone. Gotta watch that in the future. I’m trying to be a role model here.

The reviews I read were good and encouraging: a sea-faring yarn complete with pirates
Oct 24, 2010 Ensiform rated it liked it
The third Newbery winner, this is a pirate tale set in the days just before the English Civil Wars. Philip Marsham sets off to sea, and the ship is overtaken by pirates. Marsham must sail with them for a while, then escapes only to be captured and tried with the crew.

It's an interesting book for the historical detail (down to the rather hard to follow speech and arcane vocabulary) and for Hawes' unwillingness to be trite or shallow: some characters loom large and then fade away, as in life, and
Jul 20, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: mg-fiction
Great adventure book for lovers of Treasure Island and Pirates of Caribbean. Especially if you like well researched Historical fiction along the lines of Bernard Cornwell's "Sharpe's" series or C.S. Forester's "Hornblower" series. Unfortunately for this book, todays young readers are much more interested in a direct story then in beautifully crafted language. Also, the in depth knowledge of 17th century sailing vessels left me needing an glossary or schematic - A glossary of language terms would ...more
Mar 11, 2015 Kimberly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery, juvenile
1924 Newbery. No idea why this won a Newbery, except for maybe the cover. The archaic language makes it especially unreadable even for adults, and the storyline doesn't live up to the fanfare of the subtitle. I doubt any kid ever enjoyed this.
1924 Newbery Medal Winner

The great guns ranged along the deck—each bound fast by its new breechings—with their linstocks and sponges and ladles and rammers, made no idle show of warlike strength. There was too often need to let their grim voices sound at bay, for those were wild, lawless days.

Such a ship as the Rose of Devon frigate, standing out for the open sea, is a sight the world no longer affords. Those ships are “gone, gone, gone with lost Atlantis.”
(p. 71)

Phil Marsham's father dies, and
Wayne S.
Mar 28, 2013 Wayne S. rated it liked it
In seventeenth-century England, nineteen-year-old Philip Marsham’s mother had died when he was young, and his ship captain father Thomas raised him on the sea. Philip would have been with his father when Thomas’s ship went down and he was lost, but the son had become ill and was being nursed in London by his father’s hopeful fiancée Moll Stevens. But an unfortunate accident forces him to flee London. He meets up with a couple of sailors headed for a ship at Bideford, and Philip goes with them. ...more
Jan 04, 2013 Peter rated it did not like it
Shelves: newberys
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2011 Jill rated it did not like it
Shelves: newbery-medal
I had to take this book back to the library for a few months. I came back to it only after I had almost completely finished the Newbery winner list. I thought maybe after a few months it wouldn't be as tedious a read as I remembered, but no, it was. And unexpectedly violent in parts.

"...there are times when it takes death to maintain the discipline that will save many lives."

Here's an example of the length of some of the author's sentences. I like the description, but it's incredibly long.
Amal Ronak
Nov 05, 2014 Amal Ronak rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irp
Exposition: "Young Philip Marsham ships out on the frigate Rose of Devon, which is soon seized by gentleman of fortune". "He is forced to accompany them on their murderous expedition". (ix) These quotes help explain who Philip Marsham is and what his expedition is going to be about and how violent this story will become.

Central Conflict: "There are men that would slit the fellow's throat" he said, or burn him to stake" (9) The central conflict of this story is that Philip Marsham must take reven
Feb 11, 2016 AngieA rated it really liked it
"The Dark Frigate," winner of the 1924 Newberry Award, is a boy's tale of the sea, pirates and adventure. Phil Marsham "was bred to the sea as far back as the days when he was cutting his milk teeth," learning the trade from his father as a child. When his father dies during a voyage, he leaves his teenage son to fend for himself, which Phil was surely capable of except for an episode of bad luck that forced him to flee the inn where he was recovering from an illness. He happens to join on the ...more
Angie Lisle
Apr 06, 2016 Angie Lisle rated it did not like it
I think this book was written as a response to Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, with a male character instead of a female character. My exact note that I made during reading was: "mansplaining Moll Flanders."

I enjoyed Defoe's Moll Flanders - a book driven by carnal sins and being a woman in a world with few options and even less legal rights. Moll is a book I wouldn't share with children - older teens, yes, especially young women, but not children - so this book feels like a way of encouraging chi
The other John
Sep 08, 2008 The other John rated it it was amazing
From my earliest days, I have had a taste for science fiction. To me, adventure equaled hopping in one's spaceship and blasting off for distant worlds. As I grew older and became aware of other genres of fiction, I gained a vague awareness that the plot of a typical space opera could easily be rewritten--to fit another genre, to be set in the Wild West or on the open seas. I never had an interest in experiencing those other genres, however. The few snatches of westerns or pirate swashbucklers I ...more
Oct 20, 2011 Lena rated it liked it
Recommends it for: see review
Shelves: award-winners
Half a year after I started this book...I finished! One of the many books on my list of Newberry Winners, this one was not my usual 'cup o' tea' but it was an interesting read. It was very authentic feelings, or as authentic as a sailor book without swearing can be! The language was a little dense and it was definitely not a fast and easy book to breeze through like the more recent Newberry winners. I appreciated that about it.
The characters were interesting enough, and I really liked how the a
Andrew Lasher
Apr 27, 2010 Andrew Lasher rated it liked it
I made the mistake of thinking that because this was awarded a Newbery Medal it would be good for my middle school students. Big mistake. However, the mistake was mine, not the book's. I should have realized that a book written in 1924 wouldn't use the same writing style as books today.

Because of that, The Dark Frigate bombed in my book club. It is just downright hard to read. That being said, the book contains an excellent story as long as you are willing to dig for it. The writing is hard to u
May 02, 2011 Vicki rated it liked it
I didn't read this as a kid. I had never even heard of it until I found it on Amazon on a list of Newberry winners. So I will have to look on this as an adult.

I love seafaring tales, a genre that I don't come across too often, so I was kind of excited about this one. Overall, I wasn't disappointed. It started out pretty slowly, and it took a while to get use to the language, but one on ship, it was very entertaining. I loved how the pirates were actually bad. There was no sugar coating, and I fe
Jan 31, 2010 Caroline rated it it was ok
The Dark Frigate, which won the Newbery Award in 1923, is of the “pirate adventure” genre. It is not bad by any means, but it seems kind of an odd choice. The Dark Frigate is a little like Treasure Island without the fun – and a little like Patrick O’Brien without the charm.

Its style is quite old-fashioned. The characters all speak in “Shakespearean” terms, reminiscent of the way 19th century authors (like Stevenson or Scott) rendered old-timey speech. There’s a lot of “Prithee! Verily thou have
Dec 31, 2013 Debbie rated it did not like it
90 1924: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes (Little, Brown)

Oct. 13, 2013 247 pages

This book may only have been 247 pages, but it felt much longer. There was lots of unfamiliar boating terminology and lots of sentence structure which is today uncommon. It was not a fun read. It did not have lots of meaning and it shared uncomfortably cruel means of punishment. I don't think it is appropriate for elementary kids nor middle school kids because of reading level and subject matter. I have my doubts ab
Kim Dennis
Jun 22, 2016 Kim Dennis rated it it was ok
As I was reading some reviews on early Newbery books, I came across one that described some of the early winners as "good for you" books. I guess to me this one would qualify that way. It wasn't as bad as the Story of Mankind, but it wasn't as good as Dr. Dolittle. The author was using verbiage from the time period he was writing about, and even I got lost on occasion -- I think it would be difficult for someone young. I also felt like he didn't need to carry it as far as he did in the ...more
Jan 09, 2014 Kathi rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery
This was my least favorite Newbery I have read so far…

I have absolutely no interest in ships, sea-faring, or pirates, which were the topics of this obviously well-researched historical fiction Newbery, awarded in 1924. I am also not a fan of violence for any age, especially children. One of the reasons that Hawes wrote this book was to de-romanticize pirates—this in 1924! I hope that the murders, betrayals, thefts, torture, and general difficulties of the pirate life-style helped Hawes achieve h
I read this on as part of a project to read all of the Newbery award winners. This one won in 1924.
I actually liked this one for the most part. It's a little slow to start, which I think could turn modern kids off of the book, but for a book aimed at kids/young adults it offers a somewhat unflinching look at pirates. Turns out most of them aren't good people. I will also say that this is going to test any young person's reading skills, as it uses some obscure terms for things and doesn't bother
Jan 24, 2012 Maria rated it did not like it
What do drunken sailors, flirtatious wenches, thick Scottish brogues, slow plots, slashed necks, pirate battles, and hangings have in common with children's literature?

Good question. I think I would be lynched if I tried to have my students read this book.

If the book were designed for adults, I think I'd give it 2 stars. There were some funny parts that I did enjoy, and I did find some of the chapters entertaining once I got into the "hang" of the archaic style of writing. But the plot moved so
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1001 Children's B...: November 2016: The Dark Frigate 11 18 Nov 24, 2016 07:03PM  
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Charles Boardman Hawes was an American author. He was posthumously awarded the 1924 Newbery Medal for The Dark Frigate (1923). Additionally, The Great Quest (1921) was a 1922 Newbery Honor book.
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