The Captain’s Log – the wall (John Lanchester)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I heard about this sci-fi book because it was a Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist (2019).  This novel is about what happens when climate change has raised the water levels of our planet.  It takes place on an island surrounded by the Wall which basically exists to keep all Others out.

Kavanagh is a young man who is about to serve his time on the Wall as a Defender.  All citizens have to do their two-year stint.  The consequence for letting someone over the Wall is to be thrown out on the other side to become an Other yerself.  I really enjoyed Kavanagh as a character.

The society at first seems rather benign.  All citizens have a chip and are guaranteed shelter, food, and clothing.  Ye also get a say into what yer job will be in the future.  Sure, ye might die on the Wall but once ye serve yer two years, it be fairly smooth sailing.  But reality of course is that there be a rather fierce class system where it be hard to work yer way up.  There are slaves even though they aren’t called that.  No one wants to bring children into the world so one of the ways ye can work yer way up is by being a Breeder.  And above all there is always the fear of the Others getting in and taking precious resources and getting caught up in the consequences.

I thought the premise was excellent, the world-building was interesting, and I particularly liked the ending of this one.  Those who want solid answers might want to stay clear.  I keep reading these books about rising water levels because of where our planet seems to be headed.  I be interested in what authors can do to showcase the possibilities, as scary as they are.  Because remember the planet has been through this before.  Just look at Doggerland (photo source):


Doggerland was an area of land, now submerged beneath the southern North Sea, that connected Britain to continental Europe. It was flooded by rising sea levels around 6500–6200 BC. Geological surveys have suggested that it stretched from Britain’s east coast to the Netherlands and the western coasts of Germany and the peninsula of Jutland.[1] It was probably a rich habitat with human habitation in the Mesolithic period,[2] although rising sea levels gradually reduced it to low-lying islands before its final submergence, possibly following a tsunami caused by the Storegga Slide. (source)

This was an engrossing and quick read that I can recommend.  Arrrr!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall—an enormous concrete barrier around its entire border. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and attack constantly. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding Captain and Sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. And then the Others attack. . . .

Acclaimed British novelist John Lanchester, “a writer of rare intelligence” (Los Angeles Times), delivers a taut dystopian novel that blends the most compelling issues of our time—rising waters, rising fear, rising political division—into a suspenseful story of love, trust, and survival.

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

John Lanchester – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the wall – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

12 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – the wall (John Lanchester)

    1. Aye, this was not escapism at all. So I understand yer feelings on it. And while I really enjoyed it, there are many better books out out there on this topic. I just can’t get enough of them because I like to see what authors come up with.
      x The Captain


      1. I think longer than short stories are usually where my tolerance for realistic dystopians usually runs out. Things like Hunger Games are fantastical enough that I can enjoy them. Ones that are closer to “now” or that are closer to real I generally can’t read as much of and stay happy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah that does make sense matey! It’s like I can’t read too much news about the American judicial system cause I get pissed and sad and want to read case information I can’t get ahold of. Things about now can be too irksome. But if it be set couple hundred years from now, I can do better.
        x The Captain


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