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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 246

In Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, Brian Jacques uses the legend of the Flying Dutchman, a ghost ship condemned to sail the seas eternally, as the starting point for a novel that is part high seas adventure, part parable, and part mystery. The novel begins in 1620 in Copenhagen as the ill-fated Flying Dutchman sets sail under the command of the crazed and sinister Captain Vanderdecken. Neb, a mute stowaway, and Den, a black Labrador that he has saved from drowning, are put to work by the surly and villainous captain and crew and are witnesses to mutiny, murder, and a host of other malicious acts. When the mad captain forces the crew to sail around Cape Horn in a terrible storm, an angel appears and condemns the ship and its inhabitants to an eternity of ghostly sailing as punishment. Because Neb and his dog have pure hearts, the angel saves them and gives them the gift of eternal life, the ability to read one another's thoughts, and the duty to roam the world and help others in need. After a brief stay in Tierra del Fuego, Neb and Den, whose names have now changed to Ben (Neb) and Ned (Den), next turn up in the English village of Chapelvale in 1896. The quaint rural village is threatened with industrialization and ruled by a gang of juvenile delinquents, but Ben and Ned save the day as they solve the mystery that will save Chapelvale from its grim fate.

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