August 24th, 2006



Or, to give it its full title: Piratica. Being: A Daring Tale of a Singular Girl's Adventure upon the High Seas. Presented Most Handsomely by The Notorious TANITH LEE.

Unsurprisingly, this rocks. It's a juvenile-market novel, and starts off with Our Heroine remembering her mother's pirate past and escaping civilised society for a life of adventure. There's a nice twist a third of the way in, and then things kick into gear somewhat.

It suffers from the same thing all pirate stories suffer from: pirates, frankly, are nasty people who do terrible things, but this a hero does not make. So instead, there are many, many hoops to leap through in order to have the romantic image of a pirate without, y'know, the piracy.

Plus, there's some extremely far-fetched puzzle-solving. I haven't read any Dan Brown, but I get the impression this is of the same order.

But this is a YA novel, so what the hell. There's a touch of the superhero here, but it's all good fun, and you just know you can't go wrong with Tanith Lee.
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The Nautical Chart

The Nautical Chart by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, is a contemporary treasure hunt. Our hero, Cal[1], is a sailor, navigator and diver who, due to bad luck and judgement, no longer has the licence to do so by trade. By chance, he encounters a beautiful woman who has just acquired the historical Nautical Chart of the title, which may hold the secret to a sunken ship. Is this the curiosity of a child, maintained through to adulthood, or is there buried treasure involved too? Or is there something more strange going on?

Cal gets more and more enamoured of this woman, while other, less savoury parties are trying to acquire the chart and to put Cal off getting too involved. But are they trying to get the "treasure" for themselves, or are they actually telling the truth, and is Cal letting himself be drawn in by a pretty face and a black heart?

It's all good stuff, and Pérez-Reverte has done his revision: all of his nautical banter and explanations sound damn authorative to me. There's a lot of navigational detail here, and there's a lot about a sailor's point of view. The tail is drawn out a little too far, but it's a convincing read. I'm sure that someone who reads faster than I do would enjoy it more.

I felt slightly disappointed by the ending, but that's down to expectations; it makes sense how it finishes, although it's not nice and tidy.

[1: At least, I think he was called Cal. I don't have the book to hand.]
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Micah, by Laurell K. Hamilton, is furry porn. This'll come as no surprise to anyone who's read any Anita Blake before. Basically, Anita is a vampire slayer executioner, necromancer, and basic zombie-raiser who works for Animators, Inc. doing the latter. She's also head of a pack of Leopard weres (though not furry herself), queen of a pack of wolf weres, and general all-round bad-ass. And hugely prudish, but still manages to get mucho sex with all and sundry. Oh, and she acquires approximately one super-power per novel. We're quite a few down the line.

So, onto this latest one. This is effectively a padding novella between the previous proper novel and the next. Apparently Hamilton wanted to clear up a few things about some of Anita's relationships and medical health before getting the next novel under way.

I forget what happened, mostly. I seem to recall a zombie-raising that goes completely pear-shaped, plus some assassination attempts and a nice hotel room. There's not much to this. There's very much a feeling of, "was that it? Where's the actual story?"

Hamilton's a competent writer, in that the words go by quickly, but there's a lot of sex and, honestly, I just skip those sections. I just don't care (the last full novel began with 200 pages of foreplay).

Put it this way: if this was on an album, it wouldn't make a single. Or even a B-side. Just nowhere near enough plot.