An irresistible tale of swashbuckling pirates in the New World from master storyteller Michael Crichton – now in paperback
Jamaica, in 1665 a lone outpost of British power amid Spanish waters in the sunbaked Caribbean. Its capital, Port Royal, a cuthroat town of taverns, grog shops and bawdy houses – the last place imaginable from which to launch an unthinkable attack on a nearby Spanish stronghold. Yet that is exactly what renowned privateer Captain Charles Hunter plans to do, with the connivance of Charles II’s ruling governor, Sir James Almont.
The target is Matanceros, guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, and considered impregnable with its gun emplacements and sheer cliffs. Hunter’s crew of buccaneers must battle not only the Spanish fleet but other deadly perils – raging hurricanes, cannibal tribes, even sea monsters. But if his ragtag crew succeeds, they will make not only history … but a fortune in gold.
Author: Michael Crichton
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 01/04/2010
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘Pirate Latitudes’: 2 out of 5
Purchase: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Audible UK, Audible US
I had high hopes for enjoying this as I love historical fiction, even more so when it features pirates. Sadly, although it was a good, and even exciting, story. It was not a good book.
That sounds a tad contradictory. What I mean is, it’s the sort of action-packed story that would be the perfect tale of adventure to tell by the fireside, or that could be made into an exciting film/tv series. But, as a book, it’s too predictable and just falls a little flat because of it.
My main gripe with Pirate Latitudes is that the characters never feel like they’re in any danger. Horrendously bad things do happen, but to characters you didn’t know or care about. So it feels too distant to ever really hit home.
Regarding the characters; they almost feel super-human at points. It got to the point where, if James Hunter was forced to headbutt his way through a meter-thick brick wall, he’d have done so. And he’d have come through the other side without a headache or a hair out of place. Impossible just wasn’t a concept that existed in the world of Pirate Latitudes.
And how he gets everyone to just go along with what he says is laughable. Nobody ever really gives a valid reason for joining up. All voice their concerns that what is being proposed is impossible and should, under no circumstance be attempted. But, all Hunter needs to do is say ‘go on, you know you want to.’ And they go.
I actually got to within 40 pages of the end and stopped reading for a week or two. The author wanted me to believe all was lost, but I couldn’t suspend my disbelief quite that far and the prospect of our perfect characters failing never felt real enough to keep me interested.
But, I did come back to it and soldiered on to the ending, which is another sore point for me. It felt rushed. Painfully so. The continuity just wasn’t there either. One sentence stated that a person was out of range from all angles for a pistol shot. The next sentence has said target getting shot by a pistol … I suppose when logic was thrown out of the window early on, the laws of physics were next for the chopping board.
I really enjoyed the epilogue, though. It made the entire book feel like it could have been real and that the characters within were flesh and blood rather than ink on a page. I actually felt the epilogue went some small way towards redeeming the pages that preceded it.