BOOK REVIEW: On Stranger Tides


On Stranger Tides

By Tim Powers

Corvus Books: Out now

1718: Puppeteer John Chandagnac has set sail for Jamaica to recover his stolen inheritance, when his ship is seized by pirates. Offered the choice to join the crew, or be killed where he stands, he decides that a pirate’s life is better than none at all. Now known as Jack Shandy, this apprentice buccaneer soon learns to handle a mainsail and wield a cutlass – only to discover he is now a subject of a Caribbean pirate empire ruled by one Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard. A practitioner of voodoo, Blackbeard is building an army of the living and the dead, to voyage together to search for the ultimate prize: the legendary Fountain of Youth.

With all the hype around the new Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie it is crime if people do not also pick up this book which is NOT based on the film but rather the inspiration of the film. Author Tim Powers, who has written many great books, wrote this back in 1987 and it still stands up well today.

The book follows a young man called John Chandagnac, who is out to seek his dead fathers missing fortune. Having been a puppeteer he was not ready for the adventure that awaited him on the high seas. During his travels he is captured by pirates and forced into their culture and way of life. Chandagnac has to make changes to survive including his name to Jack Shandy.

The book is full of colourful pirate life with black magic, zombies and swashbuckling thrown in as well. Shandy is forced to work with the infamous pirate Blackbeard on his quest to reach the Fountain of Youth.  Along the way he meets Benjamin Hurwood and his daughter Beth who is being taken against her will and Shandy is determined to help her from becoming what looks like a human sacrifice.

The book has lots of great characters and it is not hard to quickly immerse yourself into this adventure and way of life. Powers does a great job of not only telling a great story but also giving a fun history lesson. I could literally see the sea battles being played out in my head and see the crooked teeth on the smiles of the pirates. As soon as I finished the book I wanted to just start again.

So for a great pirate adventure get this book, grab your cutlass and hold on tight because you are about to meet the original pirate Jack.

GS Rating: 4/5

GS Reporter: Montoya

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  1. This is one of my favorite Tim Powers novels. There is some supernatural alt-history stuff going on, and the way Powers puts it all together is just wonderful. Hopefully I’ll go see the new Pirates movie this weekend, from the previews it doesn’t look like they kept much from the book?

    • montoc1701 /

      A few elements from the book made it but really both separate things.

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