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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides
Why no real cover?

Im Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, John Chandagnac is forced to join a band of pirates after they captured his ship. From them, he learns about vodoun magic in the new world, and is drawn into the plotting of various vodoun magicians.

When it comes to magic in books, I like it to be subtle. The kind of magic where something apparently happened because of the magician’s work, but it could also have been pure luck. The magic in this book is not subtle. It tops out with two vodoun practitioners levitating above ships flinging fireballs at each other. Sadly, the remaining book did not really make up for this, either. The plots are not very convincing, the characters are the epitome of one-dimensional, and the role of the women is to be passive props for the protagonists to use in their plots. The main woman is allowed to speak I think four times in the whole book. While the 17th century is surely not the best time for a women, even the Sabatini pirate novels give them more independent thought.

Despite all of this, the storytelling is quite fluid and the book is quick to read.

All in all, I expected a pirate story with a magical flair, but was disappointed to find a bad story with some sailing ships in it. I have read worse books, but I’m not sure I’d read this again if I had the choice.