Walker Books

August 2003

$17.95 AU

212p pb

ISBN: 978-0744594836

fp September 2002

The Voyage Of The Arctic Tern

Hugh Montgomery

illustrations by Nick Poullis

from the book...

Things happen here in Plymouth in the winter,

And of such things you'd surely never learn.

So take your seat and listen while I tell you

Of Bruno and his ship, The Arctic Tern.

The Voyage of the Arctic Tern is a classic tale of treason, treachery and treasure that sweeps across many centuries and different lands, from Scandinavia to Spain to the south-west of England. At its heart is the ship's skipper, Bruno, cursed to a life of eternal wandering for a moment of greed and betrayal. His quest for release brings him to the court of the King of Spain and a battle with an ancient adversary, the villainous pirate Mad Dog Morgan. Can Bruno and his crew set right the wrongs of the past and present? Will good triumph over evil? How can the Arctic Tern's captain ever find the redemption he seeks?

Vividly narrated in stirring verse that demands to be read aloud, this is an extraordinary and epic adventure story that will appeal across the ages, to children and to adults -  to all who love a thrilling story, memorably told.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A


The Voyage of the Arctic Tern tells the story of Bruno, the captain of the Arctic Tern, as he seeks to redeem himself from an instance of betrayal that left him cursed and destroyed everyone he cared about.

At first I was a little sceptical about reading a book which was written in the form of a poem, but I was surprised to find I enjoyed it. The story has been written very well; with an involving plot, interesting characters and excellent illustrations. I found it impossible to put down despite my earlier doubts. I would recommend this book to people who are around 10 years old or above, and would give this book a 10/10.

Eian, age 14, Canberra, Australia


The Voyage of the Arctic Tern is a sumptuous tale of treachery and redemption. It echoes stories of great adventure, of good deeds and evil. It has the ‘old fashioned’ ripping yarn feel to it. Beautifully presented by Walker Books with a waxy dust jacket and very thick paper, this is a special book to treasure.

Told entirely in rhyming verse over 212 pages this book is a remarkable feat by Hugh Montgomery. The tale is divided into sections: Book One – The Present Day is set in Plymouth and sets the scene for this tale that spans several centuries. Book Two – Traitors and Betrayal deals is set mainly in Spain while Book Three – Plymouth Not Long Ago brings the story to our recent past. Finally there is a section entitled Endings and Beginnings which sums up the three tales (and is rather an unnecessary adjunct).

The story is about a man who betrays his fellow villagers for a few jewels and then spends the rest of his life attempting to redeem himself. It is about pirates and treasure, evil plots and redeeming past wrongs. The main characters re-occur throughout the three scenes.

So sit back, get comfortable and enjoy this rollicking good yarn and return to a time when adventure ruled and good eventually overcomes evil.

Stephen, Canberra, Australia

Twelve fishermen arrive with the mist,

Once a year .on twelve ships,

To sit and talk of the long gone past,

Till the last tale has been told.

Strange things happen here in Plymouth

And of such things you’d surely never learn,

So listen while I tell you,

Of Bruno and his ship The Arctic Tern.

This is an epic tale of treason, treachery and treasure that sweeps across many centuries, and different lands. At its heart is the ship’s skipper Bruno, cursed to a life of eternal wandering for a moment of greed and great betrayal. His quest for release brings him to the court of Spain and an ancient adversary: the villainous pirate Mad Dog Morgan who bristles with a cruel mind and an evil heart. Can Bruno and his crew set right the wrongs of the past and present? Will good triumph over evil? And will Bruno ever find the redemption he seeks.

Vividly narrated in stirring verse that demands to be read aloud, this is an extraordinary and classic adventure story that will appeal across all ages, from children to adults - to all who love a thrilling story. The Voyage Of The Arctic Tern is memorably told and touched by the magic of Nick Polluis’s outstanding illustrations. This is a book readers will find hard to forget. The Voyage for the Arctic Tern is a delightfully heartfelt and inspiring novel, that exposes bad men as worthless and proves good friends are worth more that their weight in gold.

Tharsiga, age 12, Canberra, Australia


The Voyage of the Arctic Tern is set in England during a war between England and Spain.  It is a tale of piracy, greed, betrayal, treason, treachery, and treasure.  An English nobleman, (Lord Hunter) is given a dangerous and secretive mission, to bring peace between Spain and England; he enlists the help of three men, firstly Bruno the man who had saved Lord Hunter’s life. Bruno knew of two people in which to acquire aid, the first was Adrian, a barman and a cook, for it was said that Adrian was part of the Arctic Tern’s crew.  Another to join also had sailed with Bruno, a doctor by trade, Chris Edge, who claimed that diseases were caused by tiny creatures that we could not see. The doctor also had a superior knowledge of poisons and could say what had poisoned any person just by looking at them. The crew set off to Spain in what would be an adventure to remember and a tale to tell.

The Voyage of the Arctic Tern was written by Hugh Montgomery. It is written more towards early high school, to middle high school years rather than towards older readers. I liked this book because it kept me wondering what was going to happen next, and why Bruno is so old. The introduction to the book sets the scene for the following adventure.  It lures the reader into the book by speaking of a supernatural event that takes place every year. The book is an adventure book which keeps the reader interested the whole way through. The pictures surrounding the words help in understanding the text.  My rating out of ten would be an eight to a nine.

Michael, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

The Voyage of the Arctic Tern is a classic tale of adventure and treachery on the high seas. A young fisherman makes a greedy decision to sacrifice his own fishing village for a vast amount of riches, without realising the consequences that would follow. As punishment for his greed, the fisherman, Bruno, must now complete three tasks before he is released from the trap of eternal life that plagues him. As Bruno’s hellish life continues he is summoned to complete a task of extreme secrecy and world importance. This quest tests every one of Bruno’s nerves and along with some newly acquainted friends he is able to triumph over an old enemy, finally reclaiming the peaceful death he longs for.

The story is set out in three parts which each describe a different aspect of Bruno’s life and his mission. With rhythmic verse the writing flows majestically and will captivate any audience with a soft spot for rhyme. The story begins around the colonial period when England was at war with Spain and ships were the marvels of construction. The language utilized by Hugh Montgomery allows the reader to create an image of the times, accurate enough to make it real. The story strays a long way from realism though, almost taking on the form of a fantasy novel when the artic tern, a symbolic bird, comes into the equation. Mystery also plays an important role in setting the mood of the story and gives it an overall ‘darkening effect’ which feels appropriate for the times.

With clever illustrations on each page, both text and image create the mystery and adventure that makes up The Voyage of the Arctic Tern.

I would recommend this novel in verse to anyone with a love for intelligent rhyme or anyone seeking to escape this world into a place of adventure and wonder. The story withholds many of the traits of an old man sharing an old fashioned ‘yarn’ to his grandchildren. The novel will successfully take any reader into its world and leave them wishing the story would never end 

Shane, Year 10, Canberra, Australia


We are studying this book at school and it is extremely interesting. I find that Hugh really tells the reader about the story of why poor Bruno has to live with this guilt and curse! A very good book!

Michelle, Year 8, England

This verse novel is about a man named Mad Dog Morgan who has a cunning plan to rule Spain by poisoning the king.  However, In England the Queen asks a man named Lord Hunter to make a treaty with the king. Hunter goes to Plymouth to find a crew and a ship. The crew he comes up with has a captain named Bruno, a chef named Adrian and a doctor named Chris. They choose the ship, the Arctic Tern, because they know it’s a tough ship. When they left port and got through the choppy seas they reached Spain. In the kings castle they notice the king lying almost dead. Chris tries as hard as he can to revive him. Meanwhile the rest of the crew is trying to find the man who is responsible for this treachery…

I thought this novel was a fun, exciting and adventurous book that caught my attention very well. I would recommend this as a must read for anyone over 10 years old.  I would give this a rating of 9/10; it’s a really good book.

Mark, Canberra, Australia

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