Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pirate Freedom

As a parish priest, Father Christopher has heard many confessions, yet his own tale is more amazing than anything heard in the confessional. Chris was once a pirate captain several hundred years ago. Fresh from the monastery, Chris is somehow transported back in time to the golden age of piracy. At first he resists becoming a pirate, but he eventually embraces the life, and he even falls for a charming senorita. Where the wind will blow him, or perhaps I should say blew him, only Father Chris knows.
I’ve only read two other Wolfe books, Soldier in the Mist and Soldier of Arete, but I would say that Pirate Freedom is close in quality to both. It is similar in style as well, though the similarity lies mainly in that the book reads more like historical fiction than fantasy. The book is written like a memoir, Chris recounting his experiences as a pirate from some time far down the road. It is extremely well researched and very accurate for the time period, that of early 16th Century Caribbean.
Like in the Soldier novels, the supernatural elements of the book are never explained, and frankly they don’t need to be. The strength lies in the immersing the reader into the story. Chris is the proverbial fish out of water, though it is never truly a setback for him since his future life had little resemblance to his life as a pirate. His knowledge in one life never really overlaps the other. Being from the future, Chris does not have any inherent advantages or disadvantages instead having to rely on his wits and intelligence. Perhaps that’s a weakness of the book, perhaps not.
It did seem that piracy was more widespread in the book than it was historically, but then it is set right during the time when Spain is still consolidating its hold on the Americas. Spain is the only real naval power at this time so such piracy is perhaps not as unlikely as it may first seems. Especially as some of the pirates were undoubtedly privateers, commissioned to be pirates on behalf of other governments.
If you love historical fiction, you can’t go wrong with Pirate Freedom. Recommended.
Rating: 8/10.

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