It's amazing the problems drinking can get you into. One little swig from the wrong bottle and you go from being an ordinary Dutch sea-captain to an unhappy immortal, drifting aroundthe world with your similarity immortal crew, suffering from peculiary whiffy side effects. Worst of all, Richard Wagner writes an opera about you
Little does Cornelius Vanderdecker, the Flying Dutchman, suspect that a chane encounter in an English pub might just lead to the end of his cursed life, one way or another ...
The book have been published with several different covers.
Josh Kirby made the covers for the first two novels. Later on they switched cover artist to Steve Lee, which has made most of the covers to Tom Holts books.
Read more about the cover artists in the FAQ.
Unfortunatly I never scribbled down what I thought about the book, however, I did really enjoy it (I think it was the first Tom Holt novel I read). It is my favourite novel written by Tom Holt.
After reading this book A.D. Warr wrote this on the 18th December 2012, and gave it a rating * * * * * (4 of 5)
Amidst my varied attempts to broaden what I’ve been reading, I’m always mindful of the need to read something for the sheer pleasure of it. To metaphorically slip on a comfy housecoat and slippers and while away a good chunk of time. Anything by Tom Holt is definitely a suitable pick for this.
I’ve previously skipped over reviewing any of Tom’s comedic works that I’ve read in fear of writing a schmalzty, overly-positive review. But I feel at least one such book should get a review. I’ve chosen Flying Dutch as its my first foray into the proper depths of Tom’s back catalogue — that is the books contained within the republished “omnibus” editions.
This was Tom’s third book to be published, but all the elements I’ve come to know from his later work are obvious here. A fantastical situation interpreted in a mundane way, put-upon characters, and the revelation that the way the world works is actually bizarre (though this makes just as much sense as how it works in reality).
Comparisons to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett are common when it comes to Tom’s work. All three trade in the clash between mundane and fantastical elements. While Adams takes on science fiction, and Pratchett takes on traditional fantasy literature (and later whatever kind of literature he wants to mix in), Tom works with myths and legends. Those things that everyone knows something about but likely couldn’t go into detail if pressed. Everyone knows the name “Flying Dutchman”, but it’s mixed up with every other nautical tale they’ve heard (thanks, Disney).
Where Tom comes closest to Douglas Adams’ work, I feel, is not the sense of humour or the writing style but the reactions of his characters. The way that they always seem so desperate to push aside the fantastical events they become part of in order to get on with their lives. Only to discover that their lives are unbearably mundane and depressing, and maybe the fantasy crap isn’t so bad as all that.
I’ve seen complaints from some that many of the references now come across as dated or make little sense, as what they’re referencing has faded into obscurity. But this didn’t mar the enjoyment for me. I found these eclipsed by the references that, 20 years on, were still achingly relevant (saying that the Rolling Stones will always exist, to name one).
I wouldn’t recommend this as the first port of call for anyone new to Tom’s work, but it’s certainly worth a read for anyone looking for another fix. And I definitely won’t be stopping here.
If you have read this book and have written down your thoughts, please mail me the location of your review and I will link it from here.
What critics have said
`Dazzling, neat, frivolous ... Holt's witty and eccentric historical ruminations range over centuries with eae'
-- Time Out
`I loved the humour (subtle but effective), Excellent'
`Guranteed to put a contented smile on your lips'
-- Washington Post
Quotes from Flying Dutch
"There were spiders in the celler. Big spiders. A foolhardy clerk had gone into the celler five years ago, and all they ever found was the shoes."
"It is galling, to say the least, to have been to every place in the world and then not know where something is. It's rather like having a degree in semiconductor physics and not being able to wire a plug. You begin to wonder if it's all been worthwhile"
"At any given time, ninety-nine-point-nine-five per cent of the human race are a confounded nuisance"
`Captain.' Talk of the Devil. `I've been thinking.' `Good for you, Antonius. How do you like it?'
At this point, a thought entered Vanderdecker's mind. During the short time it stayed there, it made its presence felt in more or less the same way a hand grenade would assert itself in a glassworks.
`Quiet!' A man who has just spent five minutes talking into a British Telecom payphone is not afraid to raise his voice.
`Will they be all right?' Hildy asked doubtfully. `They don't seem very practical to me.' The King nodded. `I should think so,' he said. `Take Angantyr Asmundarson, for instance. To join the muster at Melvich, he marched all night from Brough Head to Burwick - that's right across two msin islands of Orkney - and since there was no boat available he swam over from Burwick to the mainland, in the middle of a storm. Then he ran all the way from Duncansby Head to Melvich, on the morning before the battle, and still fought in the front rank against the stone-rolls of Finnmark. Complaining bitterly about his wet clothes and how he was going to catch his death pneumonia, of course, but that's just his way.' He paused, and contemplated his fingernails for a moment. `Put like that, I suppose, it rather proves your point. Only a complete idiot would have gone to so much trouble to get involved in a battle. Come on,' he said briskly, `it's time we were going.'