These were the two books that my friends and I, would have voted as "mega brill" when of upper junior to lower secondary age. Young Drake of Devon is about Drake's boyhood. It begins with the flight from Tavistock to the teenaged Drake returning to Plymouth. It is well written, historically accurate and very funny.
Drake is portrayed as very human. He frequently exasperates, but it is very easy to identify with his character. The book has verve, a great deal of charm and background details are sound. Peter Dawlish is a sailor writing about a sailor. Expect some delighted giggles and snorts of laughter from any child reading this book. This is because the author does not depict Drake as an "immaculate lad".
He Went With Drake is not a sequel but a self contained account of the circumnavigation. It is not amusing as Young Drake of Devon, perhaps because the author is bound by important historical facts. However, there are some lighthearted moments and the book is just as well written and accurate. The accounts of the circumnavigation are seen through the eyes of two young people aboard the Golden Hind. These are Drake's page and cousin John, and Hatton's protégé John Brewer.
The characters of the two boys are well contrasted: the forthright, rather too outspoken John Drake and the quieter, more sensitive John Brewer. Drake is still the hot-tempered extrovert of Young Drake of Devon, not noticeably subdued by being twenty years older.
I particularly like the fact that both books do not present Drake as a paragon of perfection but as he was - hot-tempered, sharp, tongued, conceited, self-confident, yet vulnerable and very likeable. I also like the representation of Doughty as not always the black-hearted villain of the peace, but a man who acted as he did, because of wounded pride and inborn snobbery: and not of evil.
Both books deserve to be re-printed. This may well happen because Peter Dawlish is enjoying a revival and his "Dauntless" books are already back in print. Verdicts from my school pupils and nephew were, Young Drake of Devon, "ace" He Went With Drake, "real good."