Still waiting for that excellent pirate novel.,
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This review is from: On Stranger Tides (Paperback)This is the book that the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise drew inspiration from for it's 4th outing. I wanted to read the book before seeing the film and as a result of my tardiness, will now have to wait for the film to come out on DVD.
I love pirates, I wish there were more novels surrounding pirates, (anyone that wishes to point me in the right direction please feel free). However, the few I have read, all seem to leave me feeling the same.
It is very rare I finish a book and can't decide whether I enjoyed it or not. "On stranger tides" joins this list. Like other pirate novels I have read, there were moments where I really enjoyed the experience and other moments where I was reading but not really taking the story in.
For example, the whole Fountain of Youth episode stood out as a really good piece of writing, Tim Powers really portrayed a great sense of atmosphere and claustrophobia. The sense of voodoo magic poured through the swamp like settings and the character's distress at their real or imaginary visions was quite disconcerting. However, if you asked me what the purpose of the whole scene was and what the characters achieved, I would struggle to tell you.
There are also some good characters. The pirate captain Phil Davies, the evil Leo Friend and the loyal Skank spring to mind. However it is difficult to route for the main character Jack Shandy who spends long periods feeling for himself and drowning his sorrows.
I think the biggest problem with the novel is the lack of direction. I like my plots to be clear, I don't mind complicated but I like to know the motivations of the protagonists and their overall objectives. With "on stranger tides," the main character "Shandy " seems to stumble from one scene to another with no real purpose. There is some vague mention of an uncle he wishes to confront and then later he wants to rescue a girl who at the beginning of the novel he did not care for.
The timeline is never consistent. A chapter might end and the next may start up immediately after the event or some months after. I found myself not discovering which until I had read a good few paragraphs of the chapter first. This is probably summed up in the loosely entitled epilogue, which is really just the final chapter of the book taking place seconds after the ending of the previous chapter and in no way representative of an epilogue whatsoever.
It sounds as if I really didn't enjoy the book, but I don't think that is a fair reflection. I just felt the story was more of a mesh of cool scenes loosely tied together than a clever tale. The only constant being Shandy's half hearted pursuit of a girl he did not want to encourage in the beginning. Overall, I enjoyed it then... I think.