I'm trying to remember a fantasy story that's been on the top of my brain. I read it just a few years ago. I think it was a book but I'm not positive.

It is set in the 1800s or so. Two countries are at war and most of the conflicts are naval battles. The ships are wooden and sail-powered. One country is losing badly. In every conflict, their ships are mysteriously decimated.

The story starts with the protagonist, who is a soldier who has been assigned to a ship out of desperation in hopes that he will stumble upon why they are being destroyed. He doesn't know anything about naval warfare and is held in contempt by the crew and especially the captain.

He accidentally tames a large, dangerous, flying creature which is considered bad luck by the superstitious crew. This creature has a magical dynamic that is able to lend the protagonist luck from time to time.

He eventually discovers that the enemy has tamed large sea monsters (kraken perhaps?) by feeding them bread. The monsters knock holes in the hulls of the ships of their enemies resulting in their swift defeat.

Much of the story is the protagonist dealing with the ship’s politics, learning how to use his unwelcome pet's special abilities, and the naval tactics used before and after the secret of the sea monsters is discovered.

It's a little hazy, but it seems like at the end, the protagonist isn't recognized as much of a hero as he deserved.

It's probably a long shot and normally I wouldn't bother people with this but it's been driving me nuts for weeks.

  • @adamant- Was it a side arc? That would explain why I haven't been able to find it. Feb 13, 2018 at 21:03
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    @Adamant- That's it! You're a hero! wiki.erfworld.com/WB2014_Duke_Forecastle_-_Part_1 I'm new here. What is the etiquette of this site? Would you like to post that as the answer and I'll accept it? Feb 13, 2018 at 21:06
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    If you like this, you should check out His Majesty's Dragon and the whole Temeraire series.
    – Paul
    Feb 14, 2018 at 4:33

1 Answer 1


"Duke Forecastle", part of Erfworld

This is one of the side stories of Erfworld, a popular fantasy webcomic based on tabletop strategy games. It's not really set in the 1800s, but the "side" that it features has a sort of Age of Sail, Victorian theme.

The protagonist is indeed a land soldier, which in this setting has actual numerical combat consequences. He does find that the enemy has "tamed" creatures (not kraken, but "quakken"):

“A trick’s a fine thing, and turnabout is fair play,” said Captain Forecastle through the little window in the brig door. “We tamed an eagle, but you tamed a quakken. That’s what you meant on the quarterdeck.”

And he does tame a double eagle:

He looked up, and realized that he knew the double eagle’s points. The head that had taken the last fish bent all the way down to him, and he instinctively reached out and scratched the little feathers on the top of its skull.

It was a Seaworld unit now. He had tamed it.

At the end, he doesn't have recognition, but he has a small spin-off side:

As for the current Governor of Eagle Keys, he was the comic relief of the tale, the seasick lubber who had bunged everything up by attracting a cursed double eagle to the Admiral’s flagship and then taming it. He was the one who’d gotten the Admiral croaked, and escaped from the fight by running away in terror.

Then, out of sheer dumb luck, he had managed to discover an unclaimed capital site on his way home.

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