This is from the series written specifically for teenagers called Tudor Terror. All books are about various members of the fictitious Marsden Family - retelling their adventures with various key figures in the 16th century.
The book operates on three levels. Firstly, it is about the rather boring Marsden family and tells very little about Elizabethan England. It lacks the period details, which Peter Dawlish (Young Drake of Devon, He Went With Drake) and Frank Knight (The Young Drake, Remember Veracruz) portrayed so well and thus, could equally be set in any period of history. The book also lacks that timeless quality that one perceives from Young Drake of Devon or The Young Drake.
Secondly, the book is an account of Drake's circumnavigation, as related by Sir James Marsden who is supposed to have sailed with Drake. Author Terry Deary is obviously confused regarding his feelings for Drake. He obviously cannot decide whether Drake is a hero or a villain and the book constantly reflects this. One minute Deary portrays Drake as a villain, and the next as a hero. In one way, this is a weakness of the story, yet it does reflect the difficulty people experienced after the 16th century when trying to assess an enigma.
Thirdly, the book follows the supernatural element of the series and introduces the supernatural powers of the Drum. The way he does this is quite atmospheric, suggesting that the Drum contains a familiar spirit to which Drake talks. Deary suggests that the Drum, if asked nicely, will do things in its own inimitable way and grant requests if they are for the good and if it wants to. The book is not the best book for children on Drake but it does have some redeeming features.
James Marsden's grief at Drake's death; his assessment of Drake's character and the influence which Drake had upon him was very well done: hence a sailor talking about a sailor. There is a good description of the sailors relaxing on a deserted beach, while Drake drew them and a quite funny refutal of the Drum's supposed supernatural powers when the Golden Hind's crew are speculating, "Tom Moone's it ain't drumming, its the capt'n and he aint drumming either, he drums his fingers on the edge of the table when he's calculating our position and that - that's what you hear - seen him do it, do it meself.
"Drake - me with a familiar spirit, me, I'm a good Christian what would I be doing with a familiar spirit?"
These factors make the book a worthwhile read as older children and young people do enjoy it. This book is not meant to be serious history and is all part of the Terry Deary light-hearted approach to history for these age groups.
I recommend the book to those who have children, grandchildren or contact with young people. In addition to the aforementioned title, the book is available from most bookshops, supermarkets, newsagents and bus and railway station bookstalls.