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The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab by…
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The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab

by Gideon Defoe

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"'It's not going too well, is it, Pirate Captain?' said the scarf-wearing pirate, staring at the conspicuously whaleless sea. 'I'm worried that perhaps this whaling business is a little more difficult than we thought. Possibly that's why Ahab said he'd been chasing the whale for years.'"

This review really boils down to a very simple message. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ONE OF THESE BOOKS YET JUST GET ON WITH IT ALREADY. Because they're funny and cheerful and warm and just a little bit naughty, and if you don't try one you'll never know if the humour clicks with yours or not. If nothing else, you'll learn something from the helpful trivia footnotes (for example, this time I learned the origins of the phrase "freezing the balls off a brass monkey"...). Soooo, go hit the library or something.

In this second installment of the series (I've read An Adventure with Scientists (1) and An Adventure with Communists (3) already), the pirates buy a beautiful new boat from Cutlass Liz (who is AWESOME by the way) and spend the rest of the book trying to work out how to pay her off before their time runs out and she kills them horribly. All your favourite elements are in there - the Pirate Captain's beard and pleasant, open face, the long-suffering pirate with a scarf, the Pirate Captain's charming nemesis Black Bellamy and some ship's biscuits (bourbons preferable). Throw in a chance encounter with grizzly old Ahab, a prize ham, a randy whale, a casino, a lesbian albatross, a sexy figurehead and a compelling yet moving one-man show and you've got... well, just another Pirates! adventure, really. The perfect way to while away an idle afternoon and put a mischievous grin on your face! Oh, and don't worry if you haven't read Moby Dick - I haven't either, but so long as you know the absolute basics (y'know, whale, sea captain, Pequod, long rambling discourses about whaling) you'll be just fine. :)

BONUS POINTS - for this: "I wanted to tell you one thing - Pirate Captain, you were always my favourite pupil. Certainly you were much better than the others in your class, whom I regarded merely as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal." ONE OF MY FAVOURITE MOVIES OF ALL TIME.

EXTRA BONUS POINTS - for the little extras Defoe always includes at the back of the book. This time there's some handy information about whale conservation, Nantucket and debt ("Like the Pirate Captain, more people than ever are getting into serious debt, with the accompanying risks of depression, worry and not being able to buy things that you want"). He rounds off the whole thing with an exhaustive list of non-existent (but they totally should!) Pirates! titles, including The Pirates! In an Adventure with Risk Management, The Pirates and the Edge of Reason, The Pirates! Learn German in Five Easy Lessons and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Shaft. ( )
  elliepotten | Sep 21, 2013 |
The pirates have an adventure involving Captain Ahab and the accursed white whale. It's [b:Moby-Dick or, The Whale|153747|Moby-Dick or, The Whale|Herman Melville|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1309376917s/153747.jpg|2409320] but shorter, sillier and with more ham and a detour via Las Vegas... ( )
  stevejwales | Apr 26, 2013 |
More of the same, with the added bonus of cross-dressing whales. Joy! ( )
  paperloverevolution | Mar 30, 2013 |
The pirate crew have just bought a fancy new ship to replace their current ailing vessel (it's really not normal for the mast to fall down three times a week), but they don't have ready cash to pay for it. What to do to avoid incurring the wrath of Cutlass Liz, pirate-ship dealer and the bloodthirstiest lass on the high seas? Apparently there's a fella named Ahab who's offering a sizeable reward for the capture of a certain white whale…

This is the second in "The Pirates" series by Gideon Defoe. I picked it up after seeing The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (the North American title is "The Pirates: Band of Misfits"), an Aardman Animations feature based on the first book in the series. I did actually request the first book as well, but this one arrived earlier. It may be more helpful for those completely new to the series to start with the first book, or perhaps see the movie (I did find that helped with visualizing the characters).

I whipped through this book in very short order -- it has only 152 pages and the book itself is quite small. I also spent pretty much the entire book grinning like an idiot. I did think I would spend more time laughing out loud than actually happened, but non-stop grinning is pretty good too. It's very, very silly, which can be just what the doctor ordered in some instances. And I really did almost laugh out loud on the bus when I caught this dig at Moby-Dick:

"just as one of the whalers would actually seem to be getting to the point of an anecdote, they were liable to wander off suddenly on long and rather dull tangents about whale anatomy or things like that."

Fortunately this book is not dull. Will you like it, you ask? Well, Eric Idle (he of Monty Python fame) endorsed the first book, so if you like Pythonesque humour you may like this as well. And if you like stories about mishaps on ships, there are plenty of those here for you to enjoy. I would probably not recommend reading all of the Pirates! books in one sitting though -- even while reading it I could tell that one at a time was enough. Save it for a day when you can really use some cheering up. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 31, 2012 |
First published on Booking in Heels.

At the end of The Pirates! in an Adventure with Moby Dick, there are ten pages of other (pretend) titles by the same author, and I love this book so much that I would happily read every single one of them. I'm sure The Pirates! in an Adventure with Heavy Petting and The Pirates! in an Adventure with a Steep Hill would sell especially well.

Enough about the other books, let's look at this one :) In the interests of full disclosure, I haven't read Moby Dick (the proper book) yet, although I did buy it last week. You don't really need it to understand this book though, just as long as you know the very basic summary - Ahab is Captain obsessed with hunting a great white whale that once bit his leg off. Wow, that was hard, wasn't it?

The recent film actually encompasses this book as well, so the trailer suddenly makes a lot more sense. Here, the Pirate Captain suddenly realises that their ship is looking a bit decrepit, so they head off to Cutlass Liz to get a shiny new one, The Lovely Emma. Unfortunately they can't quite afford to pay her just yet so they take on a contract for Ahab to eliminate that famous white whale.

He looked at his second-in-command seriously. "I'm making a list of when it's acceptable for a pirate to cry."
"That sounds very important, Captain," said the pirate with a scarf, fiddling axiously with his eye-patch.
"So far I've got: one - when holding a seagull covered in oil. Two - when singing a shanty that reminds him of orphans. Three - when confronted by the unremitting loneliness of the human condition. Four - chops. I've just written the word 'chops.' Not really sure where I was going with that one. Any ideas?"


Just like the other books, ...with Moby Dick has an awesome sense of humour that mixes silly slapstick with subtle innuendo to produce one of the funniest books I've read all year. I also love the informative footnotes that provide fun facts, like the origination of the phrase 'cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey' or that it is suspected whales use the magnetic field of the Earth for navigation - that's why so many whales are beached at places where there is an anomaly in the Earth's magnetic field. I did run off to check the facts so I didn't look like a complete moron after this post went up, but thankfully they are all true!

These books are just good fun. They're tiny, but I could happily read them over and over and I doubt they'd ever get stale. I've just done a quick Google, and apparently Gideon Defoe is in talks with Aardman Animation to turn the last two books into a movie as well. I know, I'm raving and I'm sorry. I'll stop when you finally cave in and buy a copy :) ( )
  generalkala | May 24, 2012 |
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To Sophie,

who still has a quarter of a million pounds
of which I have not seen a single penny,
even though this is the
second entire book
that I have dedicated to her.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375423850, Hardcover)

They’re back!!! The Pirate Captain and his irascible crew of scoundrels return in their soggiest saga yet.Fresh from their mishaps with Charles Darwin and the evil Bishop of Oxford, the Pirates set sail in a bouncy new vessel——purchased on credit. In order to repay his debts, the Pirate Captain is determined to capture the enigmatic White Whale, hunted by the notoriously moody Ahab, who has promised a reward.Chaos ensues, featuring the lascivious Cutlass Liz, the world’s most dangerous mosquito, an excerpt from the Pirate Captain’s novel in progress (a bodice ripper, of course), whale ventriloquism, practical lessons in whale painting, a shanty-singing contest in a Las Vegas casino, and a dra-matic climax in which the Pirate Captain’s prize ham saves the day!Move over, Herman Melville.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:10 -0400)

The Pirates return in a tale of killer mosquitoes, crippling debt, Las Vegas stageshows and an elusive white whale.

» see all 4 descriptions

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