Steel

Steel - Carrie Vaughn I’m a bit sorry to say that I’ve become quite the bit of the pirate book snob. The amusing thing about that statement is that I can’t say I’ve read a huge quantity of pirate books. What I have read, though, are all of the Jackey Faber books which are pretty much supreme in their historic accuracy as well as accuracy in describing all things nautical. So, I’m trying to approach this book without my pirate bias. Because this was quite a good book. I enjoyed it quite a bit. The story focused and revolved around the fact that Jill, the main character, is an incredibly good fencer. The story begins with Jill at a fencing tournament, and the outcome of the tournament is basically her drive throughout the entire book. Especially when a magicked bit of sword sends her a few hundred years into the past to the golden age of piracy. The ship that Jill is dragged about is the Diana and her captain is one Marjory Cooper. I felt like the book was hastily narrated. I never really got to know any of the crew aside from the captain and the one crewman, Henry. Everyone else was just another man (or woman, as there were two on the ship) on the crew. Everything was kind of set aside for the sake of the plot moving quickly. With that said, the crewmen that we did see I did like. Cooper seemed a blank at times, a stereotypical pirate queen rather than someone who could potentially be quite fierce. Henry was great, though. He was a great romantic interest character. I did like him a lot. The story revolves around a magicked broken sword, the pirate captain who owns the sword, and Cooper’s need for revenge. Overall, I liked the plot. I liked the revenge twist, the blood magic (blood magic! Oh, happy day! The magic in this was actually really cool, even though it was never really explained. It was a plot device, but I liked it, nonetheless. Usually piracy and magic aren’t mixed…) the viewpoint of a normal girl trying to get along with a pirate crew. What was greatest about the book, though, was the fencing, the swordplay. Jill was a fencer, so all of the terms were correct and the swordplay scenes were really well done. That was what made the book enjoyable for me, especially. I liked that Jill’s ‘claim as main character’ was her fencing skill and it was used throughout the entire book. My complaints, though, were with the accuracy. Let’s face it, the author even says that though she attempted to be as accurate as possible, there are scenes that are just not. (Let’s put ALL of the famous pirates in the same tavern at once! Yes!) That kind of bothers me. The portrayal of the pirates wasn’t the most accurate either… It just felt like it was toned down for the sake of the YA genre (which, ok, really, the Bloody Jack series proves that you don’t need to tone down anything when dealing with these subjects). Another thing that I had issue with was how every time the ship was described, it just sounded amateurish. Now, I am not a firm believer of writing what you know, but I do believe that when you are writing a novel with pirates, for it to be successful, it has to come off like you know everything about the ships. There was one point when Jill is describing pieces of the ship (after she’s been there for some time) and in the narration she says something like ‘oh and that piece, I don’t remember what that piece is called.’ I mean, that’s an amateur move. If you don’t know what that piece of sail is actually called, either look it up, or leave it out. I understand that the narration was from Jill’s POV and she was a normal, modern, teenage girl and not a well learned sailor. However, there has to be more confidence in the descriptions of the ship and the use of terms. Aside from those details, the book was enjoyable. I really liked it, it was better than a lot of the pirate books I’ve come across. Though, in my eyes, the Bloody Jack series still reigns supreme. Jacky Faber is still the pirate queen.