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Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides is Tim Powers' pirate novel. While it was optioned as a novel for Disney's Pirates of the Carribean movie with the same name, it's plot, characters, atmosphere, and feel are altogether different. For one thing, Powers can actually craft a coherent plot, unlike the screen writers of the above-stated movie.

The novel revolves around Jack Shandy, a passenger on a ship over-run by pirates who becomes pressed into a life of piracy due to circumstances, but stays one by his own volition. The main love interest in the novel is Beth Hurwood, who's accompanying her father a trip. The similarities between the book and the movie include Blackbeard (Edward Thatch) and the Fountain of Youth, but that's about it.

The novel is fairly short and a quick read, though the opening is slow. Nevertheless, by the middle of the novel it'd become compelling. Powers is a master of doing a lot in very few words, and yet getting everything historically correct. His description of naval warfare between sailing ships, managing a storm in a sailboat, and the atmosphere of the Carribean all ring true.

The weakness in the novel is in Beth Hurwood: she functions mostly as a MacGuffin to be rescued, and does not play much of an active role in the novel until the very end. To be honest though, Powers' novels rarely have strong female characters, so you should just know this going in.

I'm glad I finally got around to reading this novel: it's a lot of fun, and very well paced. Recommended.

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