Recently I finished watching the film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The film was average in terms of quality and narrative, but enjoyable enough to put me into a pirate mood. That is when I looked over at my shelf, saw my recently purchased copy of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, and decided to try it. I am very glad that I did because the book ended up being a delightful surprise in so many ways.
Daughter of the Pirate King is the first in a young adult high-fantasy book series that revolves around young female pirate, Captain Alosa. In this book, she is on the hunt for a rare map that will lead her to an amazing, legendary treasure horde. To find the map, she allows herself to be captured by her enemies so that she can search their ships. While aboard, she encounters First Mate Riden, who is her biggest obstacle. Cunning, handsome, and suspicious of Alosa’s presence, the young lady Captain must use her own special charms, wit, and unique abilities to throw him off her path so that she can succeed, preferably before he decides to kill her.
I will confess that I had expected the book to be filled with instalove and underdeveloped characters, particularly our lead, and felt that she may fall victim to the handsome male character’s appeal. I have encountered it quite a lot in young adult literature recently, and it is something that I absolutely despise. Nothing irks me more than seeing a strong female falling victim to her hormones or some pretty face. But this book did not even come close to any of the fears that I had. It blew me out of the water (pardon the pun) with its beautifully independent and fiercely powerful Captain Alosa, one who is immensely more talented in many respects than her male counterparts.
Alosa sees herself as an equal to men, and even superiors in some ways in terms of common capabilities (such as fighting and resourcefulness) and never allows herself to be subjected as a weak, unintelligent person, unless it is a strategical ploy. I also found it quite lovely that Alosa is someone who can be empathetic and can get a bit caught up in her emotions, yet whenever this occurs, it never felt forced, ingenuine, or uncharacteristic of her persona. It is a natural thing to be swayed by what you are feeling and the fluid way its executed felt perfect to the relative scenarios it comes up in.
While her strength of character and conviction is never depreciated to accommodate the male ego, the author does not go out of her way to insult or emasculate men either. She creates a wonderful balance of skills, personas, and self-confidence unique to everyone. There are a few men within the enemies ranks that have backstories that highlight their compassion and reasons for being where they are and doing what they are doing, which humanises them and makes them easy to relate to. I think it is neat to heave characters in a fantasy book who have the same real-world issues that anyone else outside of the book does. This air of reality makes it easier to get absorbed in the narrative, as well as to get more invested in the characters’ plights.
“Everyone has something dark in their past. I suppose it’s our job to overcome it. And if we can’t overcome it, then all we can do is make the most of it.”
Second favourite facet: no instalove or love triangles!! Man, I cannot put into words how much I was smiling after I finished the last page and the romance was still in the works! The last time that I read a slow-burn romance like this was when I re-read Yona of the Dawn last year.
The love interests spend a lot of time bickering back and forth and flirting with one another. It is amusing, pleasant, believable, and flows naturally. Additionally, it adds just the right amount of heat when needed to develop progression of feelings and romantic interest without being overbearing. The characters also have excellent chemistry. They do find themselves attracted to one another pretty quickly, but I like that there is a distinction between lust and love. For some people, it is normal to see someone they find attractive and feel an instant sexual interest. To fall madly, deeply, passionately, and illogically in love with them is not… at all. This separation of the two concepts helps add more depth to their interest in one another, while keeping their interactions wholeheartedly sincere and fluid.
A few other elements that are well-written include the sailing qualities. The structure and descriptions of the ship and life aboard a ship (particularly as a pirate) were accurate and detailed without feeling tedious. I like how the book describes why certain things are necessary while sailing, such as why the decks must be scrubbed every other day. It helped me learn a few things that I did not know before. There are only a handful of fantasy elements, but they are more than enough to add a bit of magical intrigue to the story. It does not steal the spotlight off the main plot point. While the fantastical aspects add more depth and charm to the narrative overall, I suspect it shall be used as a segue into the second novel; very subtle and soft, which I love. Alosa’s own ship and crew consist of all women apart from two members, and most (if not all) of the women on her ship are total badasses in one way or another. There is violence in death in the book, but it is not grotesque or super graphic. I would equate it to the level of violence that you would find in the Pirate of the Caribbean films; total PG-13.
There are only two things that I can think of that could have been better with Daughter of the Pirate King. The first is the dialogue in terms of actual speaking language. I wish it had more authentic pirate lingo/speaking mannerisms as it would have created an all-encompassing atmosphere and setting. Secondly, the Pirate King’s introduction/appearance felt a bit anticlimactic and brushed over. The most “intimidating” quality was his appearance, but aside from that he did not incite the fear and discomfort that I would expect from someone of his disposition.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading Daughter of the Pirate King and I feel it is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in a light high fantasy, strong female protagonists, and slow-burn romances. It is definitely a novel fit for adults just as much as adolescents.
4.5 maps outta 5!