“Pirate Latitudes” reminds you more of “Eaters of the Dead” or “Timeline” (minus the time travel aspect) than Michael Crichton’s more famous books like Jurassic Park, Prey. And, like many historical novels starring pirates, it is a bit cheesy in pieces.
Port Royal, the lonesome British colony in the Caribbean seas, is surrounded by the Spanish waters. The undeclared (and unacknowledged) war on the Spanish empire is being carried out by the privateers, who find support from the colony’s influential citizens, including the governor. So, when the governor comes to know about a treasure nao possibly kept in the Spanish harbour of Matanceros, he brings the lucrative venture to Capt. Hunter.
Unfortunately, Matanceros is an impregnable island fortress led by a vicious Spanish commander, Cazalla. Hunter and his crew is well motivated to carry out the raid, many having personal grudges against Cazalla. But the waters of Caribbean are infested than more than just Spanish warships, and Hunter’s Cassandra faces natural and man-made obstacles on the journey. Not to mention, the new Secretary sent by His Majesty Charles II to Port Royal has a grudge of his own, against Hunter.
As I said, the novel has the true historical, piratical flavour to the narration. The story (like in Timeline or Eaters…) doesn’t shy away from the more gruesome (or lascivious) details of the life in the colonies in 17th century. Cazalla’s bloodthirsty nature is well portrayed as is the often lawless life in Port Royal. Cassandra is manned by such names as the Moor, Lazue, The Jew and Sanson the French assassin. Each one has his own interesting backstory, excluding the captain, Charles Hunter. Then again, you can spot the good guys and the bad guys right from the start, and none move away from their side of the fence.
While Hunter’s crew is filled with such experts, the Spanish don’t fare so well on their side. True to the maritime nature of the novel, <small spoiler> the actual raid <end spoiler> and the land battles are almost too easy to win, and too quick to finish. It is the sea battles and the voyage of Cassandra and El Trinidad which are the truly thrilling aspects of the action.
Don’t expect to read something like Jurassic Park or Timeline. But this will be very interesting for the fans of Michael Crichton, or the fans of pirates. After all, add pirates to anything, and it becomes good, right?
Quote of the Day:
You see, Mr. Hacklett, privateering is an honourable occupation. Pirates, on the other hand, are outlaws.
– Sir James Almont, Governor of Jamaica