Review: The Stowaway

Rating: ★★★☆☆
In my time, I’d say I’ve read my fair share of pirate novels in a variety of genres. Historical fiction and non-fiction, of course – but also comedy, self-help, sci-fi… even mystery and instructional. But I didn’t much fathom the notion of reading a pirate book that was true, unadulterated fantasy. As in Dungeons&Dragons, Forgotten Realms type fantasy. Dark elves and trolls, demons and clerics – and yet that’s exactly what The Stowaway by R.A. Salvatore is.

The tale begins with a boy, Maimun, who’s being interrogated by pirates, and then continues with a series of flashbacks – recent and distant – that recount the tale of his life. And occasionally we return to the present for a brief glimpse at his pirate captor, who is indeed the sort of salty swab one would expect from a pirate novel of any genre. Continue reading

Review: The Legend of La Tormenta

Rating: ★★★☆☆
The Legend of La Tormenta
by Cynthia Zeuli

“The Legend of La Tormenta” by Cynthia Zeuli is the sort of pirate novel that would be easy to underestimate. First impressions can make a powerful impact, and this book’s first impression – like so many books – is made by its cover. And while we all know that covers can be misleading, it’s tough to take seriously a historical-era pirate novel graced with a photograph of a girl in a costume store bargain-bin outfit (complete with ill-fitting men’s suit shirt). Actually, the cover’s concept is clever and apt, as the pirate girl is flanked by the ghostly image of a man – very fitting indeed. But it’s poorly executed. Strike one. Strike two comes within the first few pages, as we learn that she-captain Tessa Santiago commands the Pilfering Pussycat. The charms of alliteration aside, it seems a silly name for a pirate vessel, and unlikely to inspire the desired reaction from potential prey. Personally, I groaned just a little. Continue reading