Who doesn’t love a good pirate story?
Seriously, is there anyone out there who looks at a book, sees a pirate ship on the cover, and says, “No, I’m not really into pirates.”
No one does that. No one.
Or at least I don’t. Pirates have always fascinated me, whether it was the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow, Long John Silver and his crutch, or histories of Blackbeard and others who really did sail the high seas. I’ve sought them out in every library, every bookstore, and am always excited to find a new book filled with buried treasure, fat galleons, bloodthirsty pirates, and (hopefully) a good dose of high adventure as well.
Isle of Swords fit that description to the letter. Captain Declan Ross is the centerpiece of this book, a pirate on the search for a treasure that will grant him his ultimate wish—freedom for himself and his daughter from the life he’s been forced to choose. From the beginning, Declan Ross is a different sort of pirate. He’s a man with a code, a man with a conscience, and neither lend themselves well to a life of piracy. When the book begins he has an empty ship and a starving crew, a bad combination for a man hoping to buy his way back to dry land.
Instead of a treasure, Ross comes across a boy who’s been whipped within an inch of his life, and lost his memory because of it. This boy, a monk fleeing from a dangerous opponent, and a treasure map that is rumored to show the way to the greatest treasure in history, lead him on a voyage across uncharted waters, through the hands of the British, and ultimately sets him against a foe he has no hope of matching.
One of my favorite writers said that the villains are the salt in the soup of a story. To me, the villain is always one of the most important parts of whatever story I happen to be reading, and if I can’t bring myself to be afraid of them, I’ll most often put the book down.
Wayne Thomas Batson, author of The Isle of Swords, never disappoints with his villains. But I would venture to say that Captain Bartholomew Thorne is my favorite of all of his evil creations.
Bartholomew Thorne. I don’t think I’ve ever met a villain that I liked so much in another book. He had something about him, an aura that whispered right off the page and made me shiver every time I came across his name. Wild storms, explosions, vivid characters, islands—charted and uncharted—scattered throughout the Caribbean, sword fights, iguana stew, blood, threats, and redemption all combine to create this fascinating book, but the presence of Captain Bartholomew Thorne is what propels it from a good story to a great one.
(Disclaimer: My enjoyment of this book has nothing to do with one of the characters sharing my name. I promise.)
“Good evening, Father,” came a strained and raspy voice. “It is time for confession.”