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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Sam is desperate to leave his sleepy Norfolk village and see the world. He seizes the chance to join a merchant ship but soon discovers that a life at sea is harsh and often short, especially when his ship is attacked by a French privateer. About to be boarded, they fear all is lost, but the privateers are driven off by the appearance of a Royal Navy ship. Sam's relief is short-lived. Soon after, another Navy ship sends over a press gang, and he is forced to join the frigate Miranda .War with France and Spain is raging and Sam is caught in the middle with a dangerous job as a powder monkey (carrying gunpowder from barrels in the powder magazine to men waiting by the cannons on the gun deck).

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Followed by: Prison ship.