Had to quit in the middle Just not up to par with Nelson s other serieswhich is a shame because I love Ann Bonny. I loved Nelson s Pirate Round books, but this one was a disappointment While Nelson is a pro at writing maritime fiction, he struggles to develop his characters enough for one to feel close to them While this is fine for a book that is action based, it s not ok for a book that depends on its characters to carry it Nelson doesn t write women well at all Anne Bonny and Mary Read are not likeable, and it is difficult to feel anything for them and their experiences Anne Bonny is an insatiable man eater, and there isn t a thing real about her A shame, considering the stories of these pirate women was fascinating. Fed Up With An Outlaw Existence, Calico Jack Rackam Swears Off The Pirate Life, Until He Meets Anne Bonny, A Woman Who Would As Soon Stab A Man As Give Him A Good Tumble That Is, Unless He S A Pirate Soon Jack Finds Himself Out On The High Seas, With Anne By His Side And His Men Spoiling For Action As a fan of James L Nelson s nautical fiction I had high expectations for this stand alone historical novel and I was well rewarded for my time Most of what I ve read of Nelson s work tends toward fictional stories with historical figures interspersed here and there to lend an air of authenticity But this time out, he goes full on historian, piecing together the actual stories of some of history s most notorious pirates and telling their stories.The stars of this novel are the two female pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Reed As females in such a brutal, male dominated profession their stories can t help but be interesting and the fact that they both ended up together serving under Captain Calico Jack Ratham is just one of those historical happenstances that is just too unlikely to be anything other than actual historical fact.I purposefully chose to read the book before doing any of my own arm chair research on these historical figures because I wanted to experience the uncertainty of what the outcome would be It seemed likely that their end would be the same end as most pirates achieved in the early 18th century but that uncertainty made the whole read exciting It s a book full of adventure, as expected, but also some surprisingly well developed characters, not only in the big three but also in a number of side characters along the way The pacing was nicely done, not over indulging in any aspect of the tale Those that have ever watched the TV series, Black Sails will recognize many of the characters that populate this book, including Captain Charles Vane, Captain Benjamin Hornigold, and assorted lesser pirates in Nassau.An excellent novel by the continuously under appreciated James L Nelson. The difficult thing about this book is not any fault of the author s He is telling a truly interesting and unique story, one that sounds like complete fiction, but it s not, at least at its core Jack Rackam, Mary Read and Anne Bonny were all real people, and they were 18th century pirates who spent some time together on the same ship When they were captured, Anne Bonny and Mary Read both claimed they were pregnant, and that Jack Rackam was the father He was hanged, and the women were put in prison Mary Read died in prison within a year, and no one knows for sure what became of Anne Bonny.That s all anyone really knows for sure about the three of them There are a few other details Bonny was married when she met Rackam, things like that, but it just isn t enough to write a full, non fiction account of their story No one knows how they got together Rackam had been the quartermaster on Charles Vane s pirate ship, and then led a mutiny to depose Vane He took over the ship and at some point, the two women became crew members It has the makings of a great story, but to tell it, you have to fill in the blanks, which is what Nelson does And as soon as you turn it into a fiction story, it starts to sound fantastical, and a little unbelievable, like an ocean going bodice ripper.The golden age of piracy has fascinated me since I was a kid, and it still does It s too bad that the definitive book on that chapter of world history doesn t seem to have been written, and it may never be, because there just isn t enough known about people like the ones portrayed in this book. Hahaa book for if you like your historical novels as authorially interpreted as possible in order to be as bodice rippy as possible, and think character depth is for irritating and distracting I randomly grabbed this off the library shelf and foolishly thought that if I kept reading it might get better. I like stories like this, author uses true stories real events to base his story off of Reading a book that only speaks truth fact can be very dry hard to finish It s hard to know what truly happened to these rogues that sailed under the black flag This book is a fun way to find out And it s not all carefree like so many may think. I was so surprised by this book I struggle with historical novels, so when I find one I can enjoy I fly through it This book was no exception I wish I could forget it and reread it again. It s not terrible, but it s not all that great either Also contained casual chauvinism than I expected in a novel about Bonny and Read from the narration I mean, not the characters in fact, most of the characters seemed to roll with Anne and Mary s prowess and life choices readily than the author Nothing too horrifically sexist, but periodic mentions of feminine nature and things like that which just seemed off to me Perhaps that s my modern sensibilities coming through, but given that these were women who turned their back on a society that said their feminine nature meant they should stay meekly at home and chose to go pirating for their livingwell, it just didn t sit well with me, regardless.There were also some weirdI m not sure how to describe it There were moments that felt like out of place, Mary Sue ish elements perhaps of over compensation for the aforementioned periodic sexism Things like, even though Anne had only been a sailor for like ten minutes, don t worry, she s already every bit as great at everything about sailing as the rest of the crew It didn t happen as much with Mary, who just came off as a generally competent, self assured badass maybe because Anne was basically a kid, while Mary had had a career as a soldier before, the author felt the need to point out how incredibly competent she was sometimes Too bad it mostly backfired, and just made her skills which had been legitimately acquired in previous narrative passages seem like magical YA heroine powers instead Sometimes trying too hard can be as bad as not trying at all, and I get tired of authors treating female characters as some sort of mythical other instead of just getting on with things and writing them like people Again, don t get me wrong this book didn t do a lot of that but it did enough.The romances felt weird too While I really enjoyed how Anne was initially presented as taking advantage of Bonny s wish to take advantage of her to get out and enjoy a exciting life, and how she feel for Rackam s flair and persona, after that it just feltweak The only relationship that seemed to offer any genuine emotional connection was Anne and Mary s, and at times it seemed like the author was intending to tease a romantic or sexual attraction between the two but always shied away from doing than teasingnot to the level of being actual queer baiting, but just enough to inspire the occasional awkward frown over the occasional seemingly out of place sentence or two Admittedly, something about the book s trade dress had led me to expect some kind of polyamorous threesome, so maybe I was just hoping for a interesting romantic scenario than what I got and grasping at straws that I hoped hinted that we were finally moving in that direction The relationship between Anne and Jack ran out of steam quickly, which seemed to be intentional but then the author didn t know what to do with it, and so just left it to flounder in a tedious limbo that was poorly concealed by throwing scene changes and plot events out as a sort of narrative chaff And as for Mary and Jacob well Have you ever read fanfiction written by kids just learning how to write It read pretty much like that Mary looked at him and fell in love They talked sometimes and he started to like her back I mean I m not actually quoting, but that s basically how it read I m not sure if that s because this was toward the end of the book and the author didn t want to waste the word count or what, but to me it just read as, artificially inserted romantic relationship with a man because that s what defines women s live, so now I can tease the readers with the promise of a happily ever after There was no development at all which admittedly isn t saying much because despite a fair amount of introspection, we don t actually get very much nuanced development from any of the characters, sadly.I get that the author was interested in writing a historical novel, focused on filling in the gaps between known events than in inventing a fictional narrative from whole cloth but given the lack of details we have about the lives of these three people and their crewmates, I feel like a little depth and creativity could have been achieved without sacrificing factual accuracy Nelson was than happy to invent a completely fictitious attempted rape scenario where some soldiers found Mary and Anne while they were hiding out with friends of Rackam while Anne was pregnant, after all why was this the only major event that he felt comfortable constructing to add drama and excitement to the lives of people who, frankly, probably had some very exciting and dramatic lives Again, it s not anything horrible Mary dispatches the soldiers quite readily and there s no lascivious dwelling on the prospect of the rapes but it just doesn t sit right, especially because the author took care to point out in the afterward that it was the only major event that he completely fabricated Why is it that he felt compelled to add an attempted rape, of all the things he could have added, and nothing else of import It just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.If not for my childhood love of Anne Bonny and Mary Read honestly, I can t even tell you how many times I must have re readThe Ballad of the Pirate Queenswhen I was little I still find the phrase and silver the coins and silver the moon, and silver the waves on the top of the sea flowing through the back of my mind at odd moments I probably wouldn t have bothered to finish the book Unfortunately, what should have been an enthralling story about two of the most captivating figures of piratical history and Calico Jack too instead ended up a lackluster collection of wasted potential On the upside, now I feel like reading some great Lady Pirate stories Anyone know of any other, better novels about these two buccaneer bffs or any other female pirates, real or legendary or fictional Somehow, I ve recently managed to acquire various books about pirates, and this is the second one I ve read in the last few months This particular one is a historical novel rather than a straight history like the last one I d read , and it is quite entertaining Although fiction, the story is based on the factual accounts of 3 people, 2 of whom are women, who become pirates in the early part of the 18th century Reasonably well executed, plot driven story, with many interesting details about the times in general and pirate lives in particular I could have used a bit less of the bodice ripping style of intrigue and sexual escapades, but all in all, a good read and fast paced novel, especially during a vacation while sitting in the Florida Keys sunshine as I am today Better than many beach reads, but I d certainly recommend it as one.
James L Nelson 1962 is an American historical nautical novelist He was born in Lewiston, Maine In 1980, Nelson graduated from Lewiston High School Nelson attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for two years, and then transferred to UCLA, with the ambition of becoming a film director Nelson, his wife, Lisa, and their daughter Betsy lived for two years in Steubenville, Ohio, while
- 416 pages
- The Sweet Trade
- James L. Nelson
- 14 March 2019 James L. Nelson