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On Stranger Tides Paperback – 1 May 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus (1 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848875126
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848875128
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 226,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Powers has forged a style of narrative uniquely his own, one filled with sharply drawn characters, fully imagined settings, elaborate underpinnings that pull all rugs out from under us and let us glimpse terrible, ragged floors beneath."--Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Tim Powers is a two-time winner of both the World Fantasy and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Awards and three-time Locus Award recipient. He lives in San Bernardino, California.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Niall Alexander on 17 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
The basis for a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film set to hit theatres this May, On Stranger Tides by Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominee Tim Powers is a drunken, back-stabbing, swaggering, double-dealing Saturday afternoon in the sun matinee of a novel. Depending on how closely Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio's adapted screenplay hones to it, and just how many Captain Jack Sparrows director Rob Marshall decides to composite into the thing, needless to say, in On Stranger Tides there are the makings of the best Pirates of the Carribean flick since the very first.

Nor is this the first time On Stranger Tides has been the inspiration for such estimable entertainment. Originally released in 1987, way back when Powers' novel also moved game designer and erstwhile funny man Ron Gilbert to define a generation with The Secret of Monkey Island. Their purposes might have differed somewhat - one was a boisterous book of adventure on the high seas and the other a comic point-and-click - but the veins of commonality between the game and the story which helped germinate it are easy to pick out, even to this day: there's all the voodoo hoodoo, of course, but also strains of Hatch and Shandy in LeChuck and Guybrush, and in the pirate town of Mêlée, where Threepwood determines to become a swarvy dog, there are echoes of "the outlaw republic on New Providence Island" (p.57) where Powers' protagonist Jack gets sea legs of his own.

This is after he's been pressganged, you understand. While sailing for Jamaica to right a wrong done him by an ass-kissing uncle and inherit the estate that is rightfully his, John Chandagnac's ship is boarded by pirates under the nefarious Blackbeard, who give him a no-brainer of a choice: John can either walk the plank, or join them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Emperor on 1 Jun. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was fantastically good fun. It had a great plot and was very well written.

There were lots of great action scenes and it was very atmospheric. The exposition scenes were kept to a minimum and I had the sense that the book was set in a fully realised world and that everything made sense.

The magical and supernatural elements were fully developed and didn't overshadow the rest of the plot.

There are some great characters and that includes the main character. In fantasy novels they can often be a bit dull but that wasn't the case here.

There were plenty of flashes of humour and despite being fairly long I found this to be a quick and easy read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anne Lyle on 14 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
On Stranger Tides was first published in 1987, and is the third (and most American-based) of Powers' historical fantasies. It is set in the Caribbean in the early eighteenth century, where magic still survives on the remote fringes of civilisation. Penniless puppeteer John Chandagnac sets out from Europe to reclaim the family estate in Haiti from his usurping uncle, but en route the ship is boarded by pirates and John is forced to join their crew. Dubbed "Jack Shandy" by his new shipmates, he harbours dreams of completing his quest (and rescuing his fellow passenger, the lovely Beth Hurwood, who was taken captive in the raid), but he runs afoul of Blackbeard, who is searching for the fabled Fountain of Youth, the key to immortality. In true swashbuckling pirate fashion, Shandy learns to fight and sail a ship, kills the bad guys and gets the girl, facing European sorcerors, voodoo bocors, zombies and even Baron Samedi himself along the way - no wonder Disney wanted to steal the best bits!

In fact this book's plot has so much in common with the very first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, that the inspiration is clear. The protagonist's pirate name is awfully close to that of Jack Sparrow, his quest to rescue (Eliza)beth from a sorcerous pirate captain mirrors that of Will Turner, and like Sparrow, Shandy does indeed become captain of his own small ship and spend a couple of long spells getting blind drunk on rum (or red wine if he can get it) on beaches. There's even a character who could have stepped out of the original movie, a black pirate called Mr Bird who periodically shouts "I am not a dog!" for no apparent reason.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Dent on 13 May 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I went into this book knowing very little about it. Really the only thing I had to go on was the rather lacklustre Pirates of the Caribbean film based on it, which is hardly the best endorsement.

But I found myself very pleasantly surprised with the result. The actual similarity between the book and the film is limited to the name, the fountain of youth, and the involvement of Blackbeard. If the film had been more like the book, then it might not have been the disappointment it turned out to be.

So why did I like "On Stranger Tides" so much? Well, the first thing it has going for it is excellent characters. The pirate genre lends itself to colourful, imaginative and exciting casts, and Powers doesn't disappoint. Main character Jack Shandy is the classic character who never really wanted to be a pirate, but found an outlaw life thrust upon him, whilst Blackbeard manages to be engagingly bad, but more than simply a cardboard-cut-out comic villain. Add to the mix a host of brash but morally-questionable buccaneers and you couldn't really want for better pirate fare.

One thing that I was a little less passionate about was the ending. Throughout, Powers keeps the story fast paced and exciting, with the action running right up to the end. Which is great, but it makes the ending feel rather abrupt. To go from full-throttle to over zap quickly killed the mood a little, but I couldn't say what I would have changed and it didn't damage the reading experience too much.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book. I was somewhat sceptical at first, believing that pirate stories were something of a genre cul-de-sac, but Powers' excellent writing and brilliant story converted me very quickly.
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