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On Stranger Tides: The Original Pirates of The Caribbean

On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

On Stranger Tides By Tim Powers Smoothie Review

Last Labor Day weekend, my Kindle had an insane sale, where there were so many interesting new books and many of my old favorites for two dollars a piece. So I got a lot of books backlogged onto my reading list and a few months later I’m beginning to work on reducing that list a bit. So where to start? I decided to start with Stranger Tides by Tim Powers.

So what is it about? It’s a supernatural pirate swashbuckling adventure. Sounds familiar? Rumor has it that this book was a great influence for Disney when they made the first Pirates of the Caribean movie. And after reading this, I believe it. The book follows John Chadagnac who has left family businesses of puppeteering behind to find his uncle, who had swindled inheritance away from his father. It all seemed smooths sailing and he even befriends a girl named Elizabeth Harwood. But one day pirates attack. Much to the surprise of the crew Elizabeth’s father is allied with the pirates alongside the ship's physician. And after the battle ends in defeat with the bad guys, John is taken in servitude into the pirate crew because he took a swing at the pirate captain Davies.

From there on John is thrown into the life of piracy. And he becomes a reluctant pirate, where the lines of moral values have begun to blur. He begins to see Davies as a good man. He sees the faults in the legal system. And even though his whole world is changing there is a much bigger issue. It’s that Elizabeth Harwood. Her father is leading them on an expedition to the fountain of youth and the girl is being prepped for some awful voodoo ritual. And that is his motivation throughout the book. If nothing else, he plans to get Beth away and safe.

So the good? First of all, this is a great pirate fantasy similar to Pirates of the Caribbean. It has undead pirates, a cursed Blackbeard, ghost ships, voodoo, sorcerers and the fountain of youth. The book plays with reader a little bit. It makes you wonder if its superstition or real magic for a long time until something undeniably fantastical happens and I like that. John’s story is also great. His odyssey of becoming one of the last pirates at the end of the age of piracy is interesting tale. It’s like the end of the Wild West. It is such a great personal journey. The action is great. And lastly, there are just not that many good pirate novels around and less so with fantasy mixed in. So this book is very unique.

The bad? The book moves quickly, and it’s a dense as well. There is not an ounce of fluff. Its feels much older that its 1987 publication date, so if you only read young adult novels, this might be a bit of a difficult read. Also at the same time the book does expect you to know what parts of a 1600 ship are called, which is confusing to some readers in 2017. Also Elizabeth is a damsel in distress. She probably has a dozen lines of dialogue in the book at most. For the rest of the book, she is whimpering, in shock, or has passed out. As the only female character in this book, that is a shame.

Overall, this is a great book. Its imagination fun adventure that is worth checking out. It’s just so darn fun. It’s a must read.

4 Smoothies out of Four

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Overall Rating: The Original Pirates of The Caribbean


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