Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Pirate Latitudes - Michael Crichton
Title: Pirate Latitudes
Author: Michael Crichton
Genre: Historical Adventure
The Book Depository
"Pirate Latitudes" is Michael Crichton's final novel and it was released posthumously. I have enjoyed a lot of Crichton's novels so always planned on reading this but as it was a departure from the Science Fiction novels of his that I normally read I never got around to it. However, as I had to read an Adventure novel as part of the 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to finally get around to reading it.
The story itself is set in the Caribbean during 17th Century and follows the antics of Captain Hunter, a privateer operation out of Port Royal, Jamaica. When Jamaica's governor hears about a Spanish treasure galleon being anchored at a Spanish fortress he enlists Hunter in an quest to attack the supposedly impenetrable fortress and escape with the Spanish treasure. So begins an adventure across the sea in which Hunter and his crew aboard the sloop Cassandra must battle warships, jungle terrain, great storms, cannibals and even the odd sea monster.
I found the book to be a very light and easy read that was very much of the same style as Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The pace was fast and there was action aplenty as the characters struggled from one issue to another. It really did feel like a Hollywood blockbuster in novel form which is fine if you are just looking for something fun to read but don't got looking for any of Crichton's interesting insights into Humanity and Science in this book as you won't find it. Personally I was thoroughly entertained although I do think the plot suffers from a slight lack of originality due to its comparison with the aforementioned Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the fact that Crichton's death meant it was never fully refined.
One thing that Crichton has done well as usual is in regards to his research into the period and the vivid way in which he has brought it to life in the novel. The world itself feels realistic and I found it incredibly easy to visualize the places and people involved. Crichton also doesn't try and sugar coat anything, the lives of the various characters in the novel are not easy or pleasant as they had to deal with high levels of death, disease and violence.
There is a wide range of characters in the novel and I found them on the whole to be believable and entertaining to follow. What really impressed me though was that I managed to actually keep on top of who everyone was due to Crichton's decision to give everyone, even the minor character's some sort of identifiable trait.
In summary this was a fun and enjoyable read that kept me hooked from start to finish. There are elements of the novel which probably did need refining further but unfortunately this was not possible due to Crichton's death. However I don't think any of that affected my ability to accept the novel for what it was trying to be, a lightweight and entertaining diversion.