The book opens with the Swallows, Amazons and Captain Flint in an unnamed port in the South China Sea, apparently on a round-the-world voyage aboard the Wild Cat, the small green schooner which featured in Peter Duck. They are warned to stay away from the Chinese coast because of pirates.
On their voyage in a dead calm, their monkey, Gibber, causes a fire which burns the Wild Cat to the waterline. They escape aboard the Swallow and Amazon, which are being used as ship's boats. However, they are separated in the night, when a strong wind blows up. The crew of the Amazon is picked up by a junk, which turns out to be a pirate vessel. The Swallows make their own way to shore, where they eventually meet the Amazons, who are being held by one of the Taicoons who rule the Three Islands. Captain Flint is kept under much stricter guard by the Taicoon, as he hopes to ransom him, as he claims to be the Lord Mayor of San Flancisco. (Taicoon Chang and Taicoon Wu are leaders of the Three Island Pirates who want to chop off heads.)
The children are sent to Missee Lee, the leader of the pirates. She turns out to be a frustrated academic from Camblidge, who had been sent to England for her education, only to have to return to rule the Three Islands when her father died. She starts to give the children Latin lessons, at which Roger surprisingly excels. Captain Flint is also bought from the Taicoon who has threatened to chop off his head. The pirates are concerned that if the Royal Navy were to learn their position, a gunboat might be sent to destroy them, so when Captain Flint is seen with a sextant, they are saved only by Missee Lee's intervention.
As they consider that they are still in danger of execution and are also becoming fed up with the Latin lessons, they plan an escape. During the Dragon festival, they set sail aboard Missee Lee's junk, the Shining Moon. With the help of Missee Lee, who has decided to leave her responsibilities on the Three Islands and go back to study at Camblidge, they take a daring and dangerous passage through a gorge to evade capture. However, when Missee Lee hears fighting begin between the various islanders, she decides that she owes it to her people to return and unite them again. The Swallows, Amazons and Captain Flint return to England aboard the Shining Moon.
Series: Swallows and Amazons
For Ages: 10+ years old
For Grades: 3 - 4
Number Of Pages: 349
Published: 1st January 2001
Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher
Volume Number: 10
Dimensions (cm): 20.422 x 13.868 x 2.388
Weight (kg): 0.399