Synopsis of “King’s Ransom”

99,935 Word Historical Fiction

In the days leading up to the War of Spanish Succession, an English Navy captain is ordered to disguise himself and his crew as pirates and intercept Spanish convoys sailing for France and Spain carrying treasure to fund the coming war against England.

CAPTAIN HENRY (HARRY) HASTINGS is one of the youngest captains in KING WILLIAM III’S navy. His tactical skills and daring bring him to the attention of the Admiralty, who give him a dangerous and secret mission. Harry must disguise himself and his crew as pirates and sink or capture as many of the French and Spanish treasure ships in the Americas as possible without it looking like England is behind the attacks. Harry has to find a way to carry out his orders, avoid capture, and prevent France and Spain from discovering that he is not really a pirate at all – something that would start a war across Europe before England was fully prepared.

Harry sets up his base on Cat Island, an uninhabited island in the Bahamas. With the help of a hand-picked crew, and a French spy named DURAND who actually works for England, he begins a campaign of terror, theft, and destruction that leaves the Spanish colonial governors begging for help from Spain. From his flagship, the King’s Ransom, Harry carries out his mission for king and country by attacking treasure fleets and the Spanish colonies of San Juan, St. Augustine, and Cartagena, as well as the pirate and privateer strongholds of New Providence and Tortuga. For the next several years, France and Spain feel the loss of the missing treasure, and when war finally breaks out across Europe over the future of the Spanish crown, only England and her allies are prepared to wage a lengthy and costly campaign.

Alarmed by numerous military losses and a nearly depleted treasury, France sends a squadron of warships to the Americas to end the pirate problem once and for all. Harry and his fleet of captured ships are intercepted by the French squadron near Hispaniola. It is only through Harry’s brilliance at naval tactics that Harry’s fleet is able to defeat the larger French force and escape from the trap under the cover of night. Shortly after that, QUEEN ANNE, who ascended the throne when her brother-in-law William III died, orders Harry and his fleet to return to England before their secret mission is discovered by the now desperate French and Spanish. Harry arrives back in England and receives great glory for the success of his mission. He and his surviving crewmembers are battle-worn, but victorious.

KING’S RANSOM is a stand-alone novel that was extensively researched to provide a realistic portrayal of warfare onboard an English naval frigate in the early 1700’s, and to create a believable fictional scenario against the backdrop of actual events taking place during the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714). This book will appeal to readers of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin (Master and Commander) series, and Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes novel.


About wbspeirjr

Award-winning author William Speir was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1962. His first published work is the 2015 "Muzzle-Loading Artillery for Reenactors." In addition to his artillery manual, William has published 19 novels, including a 9-book action-adventure series ("The Knights of the Saltire Series"), five historical novels ("King’s Ransom," "The Saga of Asbjorn Thorleikson," "Nicaea - The Rise of the Imperial Church," "Arthur, King," and "The Besieged Pharaoh"), one fantasy novel ("The Kingstone of Airmid"), one science fiction novel ("The Olympium of Bacchus 12"), one geo-political thriller ("The Trinity Gambit"), and a stand-alone action-adventure novel ("Shiko Unleashed"). William is a 5-time Royal Palm Literary Award winner: 2014 Second Place Unpublished Historical Fiction for "King’s Ransom," 2015 Second Place Unpublished Historical Fiction for "The Saga of Asbjorn Thorleikson," 2017 Second Place Published Historical Fiction for "Arthur, King," 2017 First Place Published Historical Fiction for "Nicaea - The Rise of the Imperial Church," and 2017 First Place Published Science Fiction for "The Olympium of Bacchus 12." William currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC. For more information about William Speir, please visit his website at
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