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VINE VOICEon 6 May 2004
This is an intriguing and well-crafted book, neatly divided into three acts, each divided into three parts which are each sub-divided into three chapters. The setting is a world similar to our own but with some subtle differences, not least of which is that the majority of pirate captains and highwaymen appear to be young girls!
The story begins with the 16 year-old heroine, Artemisia or Art for short, suddenly recovering lost memories of her childhood; a childhood spent at sea with her mother, pirate captain Molly Faith. She leaves her prim, suffocating girls' school behind and sets off to find her mother's old crew and embark on an adventure of her own. However, her recently retrieved memories are not quite as reliable as she thinks!
My admiration for this book grew as I read it. For the first three or four chapters (setting scenes, meeting characters) I was only mildly interested, but once Art discovers the truth about her memories, I was hooked. By the end of the second part, I came to regard the characters, (Art, each of the pirates ... even the parrot), with affection, really caring about what happened to them. By the third part, the adventure becomes a real page-turner. I should warn you that the Amazon synopsis bears little resemblance to the book's actual plot; for example, there is NO character called Belladora Fan!
Art isn't simply the standard feisty heroine, but an oddly noble girl, determined to follow her star ... whilst continually bewildered by enigmatic (possibly false) memories of her childhood. Her romantic interest, Felix, is also no stereotype ... and for much of the book it is difficult to understand his true motives for joining the pirates. The book's conclusion is both dramatic and satisfying, holding your attention until the very last page.
There have been several pirate stories published of late ... also the film, 'Pirates of the Caribbean'; however, this is without doubt my favourite. Although more fantastical and less grittily realistic than some books, it cleverly manages to convey a much more convincing flavour of life at sea. The language is a pleasure to read ... and I know I will return to this book in a year or two, and reread it for the writing alone.
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on 17 July 2004
No, I'm not a kid. Why should kids have all the fun? This is the best novel I have read all year - and I spent a lot of the year judging an adult litfic competition. I didn't come across anything remotely as readable or as moving. It is funny, and rollicking, and sometimes farcical - nowhere more than in an execution scene which is a homage to Cat Ballou. But it's also a serious novel about truth and fiction and the blurred boundary between the two. "The truth" is not always the same as "what really happened", as Art finds. She keeps thinking she's got to the bottom of her mother's story but she doesn't, not until very near the end.

I wanted books like this, and heroines like this, when I was young.
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on 10 April 2004
A brand new story from the celebrated author Tanith Lee.
Set in a world that is not unlike ours, we follow the story of Artamesia Fitz-Willoughby Weatherhouse (or Art for short) as she tries to follow in her mothers footsteps and become the female pirate scourage of the sea - Piratica
Little to Arts knowledge, the whole legend of Piratica is a fake!... well to a degree.
Upon discovering her mothers old crew and setting sail on a stolen ship, we see them plunder, pilage and out smart many ships.
I'm not going to spoil the ending for anyone but i would really advise you to read this book, even if you only read up to the parrot bit (the best bit in the whole book in my opinion).
The only thing i'm abit disappointed about is the romance. In Taniths other books i felt that the romance was stronger while in this it wasn't.
If this is the first Tanith Lee book you've read then i'd advise you for read her "Wolf Tower Sequence".
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on 28 April 2015
Lee's jolly romp takes place in an alternate universe rather like England in the early 1800s. 16-year-old Artemisia (nice choice of name) suffers a blow on the head during a deportment class at her stuffy boarding school, and remembers... that she is the daughter of Piratica the female pirate, and once roamed the seas under the pirate flag with her famous ma.
Artemisia escapes school and her horrid father, and goes to London to find her ma's old crew, determined to begin the adventures again. But was everything quite as she remembers?
Art's journey covers thousands of miles and many literature and pop culture references. Recognising these old friends is as much fun as the story. And it's written in Lee's usual elegant style, with understated humour - if a little broader than usual in the case of the parrot poo. Shall we just say: I enjoyed it so much, when I had finished it I immediately bought the sequel.
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on 18 July 2015
Great condition
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