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On Stranger Tides (original 1987; edition 2008)
by Tim Powers (Author)
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (1987)
Books Read in 2021 (283)
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Historical Fantasy (24)
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Interesting blend of sorcery and pirates! ( )
I started this book, maybe two years ago. That's how much I didn't care about it. I finally decided to just finish it, because despite all the problems, I wanted to see how it ended.
This is another book I really wanted to like. A friend recommended it because he told me this is where they got the idea for Pirates of the Caribbean. I found the book to be extremely slow. Told in the first person, it is written in an old-fashioned style. There is lots of description (which usually I love) but I didn't find that it added anything to the plot and just bogged it down. The scene where they are winding their way through magical paths to get to the Fountain of Youth dragged on and on. I get it! Time and distance are distorted. Did it really need page after page of description to get that across?
Had I known how slow it was, I would have just read the last section and Epilogue. There were a lot of "oh, by the way" reveals about magic and defeating bad guys with magic or how to disrupt the magic that wasn't even hinted at in the beginning of the book.
All the female characters--and there were only a few, were plot devices. The damsel-in-distress that the narrator falls for isn't even two-dimensional. And why the narrator would fall in love with her makes no sense except that she's young and pretty and not a prostitute or another type of "low" woman.
I really didn't care about any of the characters or what happened to them.
The shipboard scenes were well written as were the sword fights. Clearly, the author did his research about ships and sword fighting. Those scenes moved quickly.
The ending wrapped up almost too quickly after all the plodding along in the first two-thirds.
I have to say, that other than the fact that there are pirates and undead sailors, magic and the Fountain of Youth, I can't see much resemblance to Pirates of the Caribbean. I think the plot of the first movie was much better than this one.
I won't be reading any more books by this author.
I liked every other chapter. The pirates vodun magic was my favorite part. Blackboard with smoking slowmatch in his hair and beard is frightening. The baddies are all awful and the elements of historical child abuse to explain that were a bit much for me. Elizabeth is a cypher in distress, poor thing. He wrote it in 1987 which I didn't realize when I bought the newly published paperback. Good for Tim Powers. Read his trilogy Last Call, Expiration Date and Earthquake Weather instead.
Pirates, voodoo, the caribbean, black magic... stop me if you've heard this story.
But OST is much more than a cobbled together version of a Disney ride. Powers has created a swashbuckling epic, and has enough ideas for any three other novels. There's epic sea battles, drunken sailors, some extremely nasty vilains, and a nightmarish trip to the Fountain of Youth that is worth a read all on its own.
Powers has a fantastic imagination, and the skill to get it all onto the page. I'm in awe of his talent.
This book was the basis of the fourth of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. On the one hand, it's surprising they took so long to notice it--this was originally published in 1987. On the other hand, Powers doesn't write the same thing over and over, and this is his only "pirates of the Caribbean" novel.
Also, the movie is based very loosely on the book.
John Chandagnac is the son of a French puppeteer, who eventually left his father's business to become an accountant with an English merchant company. He's on his way to the Caribbean to track down his uncle, Sebastian, who cheated his father of his rightful inheritance when the ship, Vociferous Carmichael, is attacked by pirates. It's not long before he's pressed into pirate service, and renamed Jack Shandy.
And not long after that, working with the most famous pirate of all: Blackbeard.
Vodun, or voodoo, magic is a big part of this story, with dire consequences for quite a few people Jack comes to care about. On his trip out, he'd met Elizabeth Hurwood and her father, Benjamin, who turns out to have really dire plans for her. Hurwood's partner in magic, Leo Friend, has his own terrible plans for Elizabeth.
So does Blackbeard.
Jack at least wants to have better plans for her.
If he can outwit three powerful magicians.
The plot takes many interesting twists and turns, and Jack finds some very unexpected use for his puppetry skills.
This is, as always with Powers, smart, well-written, creative, clever, and thoughtful. The characters keep surprising the reader in ways that are utterly plausible and convincing. Powers also never fails to do his research, giving the novel an overall depth and reality that just can't be counted on in freewheeling historical fantasy.
I loved it.
I bought this audiobook.
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (1)
The novel that inspired Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides On Stranger Tides is Tim Powers‚?? great Disneyland ride through pirates, puppeteers, treasure, and thrill-a-minute action that carries on from the start. It follows the exploits of John ‚??Jack Shandy‚?Ě Chandagnac, who travels to the new world after the death of his puppeteer father to confront his uncle, who has apparently made off with the family fortune. During the voyage, he befriends Beth Hurwood and her father Benjamin Hurwood, an Oxford professor. Before they arrive at their destination, their ship is waylaid by Blackbeard and his band of pirates. With the help of the professor and his assistant, the captain is killed and Chandagnac is pressed into piracy and sorcery as Blackbeard searches for the Fountain of Lost Youth. Chandagnac, newly dubbed ‚??Jack Shandy,‚?Ě must stop the evil plot
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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