Friday, March 15, 2013

Three Reviews

In the midst of working on RPG-related projects, I thought I would post some reviews: two for books, and one for a new anthology of pirate-themed music.


The Blackbirder and The Pirate Round
These two novels are sequels to a book that I previously reviewed, The Guardship. In that predecessor, the reformed pirate Thomas Marlowe had struggled to set himself up as a proper gentleman in Virginia. These sequels continued to tell not only his story, but also those of the people around him.

In The Blackbirder, the freed slave King James gives into rage and kills the crew of a slave ship. When he flees the scene, taking the slaves with him, he is found guilty of murder and piracy, and it is up to Marlowe, the respectable sailor, to go after him. Meanwhile, a new enemy converges on Marlowe's estate and the other freedmen who live there, and Elizabeth, his wife, must deal with the ensuing conflict.

I enjoyed this story for a number of reasons. For one, it dealt with the issues relating to slavery in a forthright manner, something that doesn't always happen. It also created interesting conflicts for the characters, and mixed action with intrigue. I didn't love the ending, but it was probably fair given the time period that is depicted.

The Pirate Round takes this a step further. I will admit that, at first, the different storylines seems disparate and I wondered how they would all come together; the development seemed a little bit slow at times. In the end, however, the novel built to an exciting climax. There was a good deal more nautical action in this book, providing lots of inspiration for future adventures. This time around, Marlowe is thrust  back into his old habits, amidst a colorful cast of cutthroats, with all kinds of opportunity for scheming and betrayal.

Son of Rogues Gallery
Finally, I'd also like to comment on Son of Rogues Gallery, the follow-up to a noteworthy compilation of "pirate ballads, sea songs & chanteys," Rogues Gallery. The older collection of music is one of my favorites, and I play it while running Skull & Bones sessions to help create atmosphere. In the new collection, the feel is notably different. Unlike the previous ensemble, these ones are not usually performed in the style of the historical period. They tend to include more modern trappings, such as electrified instruments and a variety of singing styles. With that said, they are still quite enjoyable, and make a nice compliment to the older collection.

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