Recently I have been in the mood to experience pirate narratives. Since I am a fan of having background music or noise while I work and/or study, I ended up watching the Pirates of the Caribbean films while I did my stuff. Then it dawned on me that I haven’t read many piratey books in my life. I’ve read a little bit of high fantasy that had swashbuckling antics, but nothing that was similar to the realm of the films that I had been marathoning. It made me curious about literary narratives that also had boozy adventuring pirates. I did some research and managed to concoct a list of titles that I would love to dive into one of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later!
5. Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
Unhooked is a young adult fantasy novel that I was intrigued by due to its neat cover. After reading the premise, I found myself really wanting to experience the characters’ adventures! So, on the list it went. It revolves around a girl named Gwendolyn Allister who has never had a true home of her own. Terrified of being hunted by monsters, her mother has had them running. London becomes their next home and Gwendolyn was lucky enough to bring her best friend, Lisa, along for the summer. Then suddenly one evening, both girls are kidnapped and whisked away to the world of deadly shadow creatures; a world called Neverland and it’s nothing like the sweet, happy fairy tales.
4. Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
Pirate Latitudes is a historical fiction adventure novel that was recommended to me by my cousin, who has fabulous reading taste. After he told me a brief bit about it, I knew that it warranted reading. It takes place in 1665 in a rough outpost of the English Crown that is a minor colony holding out against the supremacy of the Spanish Empire. Port Royal—a cut-throat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses—is utterly devoid of London’s wondrous luxuries, but for Captain Charles Hunter it is a life that can also lead to vast riches… so long as he abides by the island’s code. When he learns of a stranded ship, a Spanish treasure galleon, him and his crew decide to hi-jack it. Shortly afterwards, the blood-spiller, Cazalla—King Philip IV’s favourite commander—gets word of the theft and reeks carnage in pursuit of the vessel and Captain Hunter.
3. Birds of Prey by Wilbur Smith
Wilbur Smith is a British-South African author who has written amazing novels about Ancient Egypt. Naturally, when I found he had written a novel about pirates, I absolutely had to have it on my list. Birds of Prey takes place in the year 1667 and follows Sir Francis Courtney and his son, Hal. They are patrolling the coast of Agulhas Cape off Southern Africa, lying in wait for a treasure-laden galleon from the Dutch East India Company, when an unexpected quest takes them on a thrilling adventure. Their journey takes them from Good Hope to the Great Horn of Ethiopia, far to the North.
2. The Guns of Ivrea by Clifford Beal
Oh… this book. I started reading it once but became horribly distracted with other life things going on at the time (this was about two or three years ago), and never got back around to it. I vaguely remember having a good time with it, and I’m curious to see where it will go, especially since there are sequels for it! The Guns of Ivrea is a high fantasy novel that follows a former thief-turned-monk who discovers a terrible secret beneath a great temple; a pirate princeling who’s a mercenary to the king and a captain to the largest fleet in Valdur; and a grey-skinned daughter of the merfolk’s chieftain who’s obsessed with humans. All of their fates intertwine as they journey across land via the free cities that are ripe with political intrigue, religious fervour, and ancient hatreds—creating a whirlwind of brewing war.
1. On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
Of course, this has everything to do with the Pirates film, which wasn’t great. I had no idea the film was inspired by this novel! When I learned that, it became a no brainer to put the book on my list. On Stranger Tides is a high fantasy, horror novel that is about puppeteer John Chandagnac who is sailing towards Jamaica to reclaim his stolen birth-right from his slimy uncle. Unfortunately for him, his vessel ends up being taken by pirates. When given an ultimatum to join the vicious crew or die, John accepts the offer to join. But out on the feisty waters of the Caribbean, the novice buccaneer comes across dark sorcery that features a ghost-infested pirate crew headed by a ghost king called Blackbeard.