Monday, November 1, 2010

Pirate Latitudes

I finally got around to reading Pirate Latitudes, the unpublished book found on Michael Crichton's computer.

This was probably an early draft so it is difficult to be too hard on it. On the other hand, it has been published as a finished novel.

I'm betting that Crichton was inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and decided to write his own pirate novel, one that could be turned into a movie.

It's ok as a novel but it is not up to Crichton's standards. When I read a Crichton novel I expect it to grab my attention. This one does not. The first chapter appears to be an attempt to show off all of his research. It covers everything that the royal governor goes through on rising and preparing for the day. It takes a few chapters before we meet the main characters. First Crichton introduces the background.

Technically this is not a pirate novel, it is a privateer novel. It takes place in 1665 during the Golden Age of Privateering when Charles II was on the throne and it is a poor fit. This was the period when Morgan could raise hundreds of men - enough to attack and sack cities but this only has one small ship and crew.

The main character is Captain Hunter and only a half dozen of his crew is named. The plot can best be described as "one damned thing after another" as Hunter and crew meet and overcome every conceivable obstacle. Most of these are quickly dispatched which is why they have to meet so many different challenges. Possibly Crichton would have fleshed out some of these and eliminated others in later drafts.

John Drake's Flint and Silver books are much better but Crichton's will do if you want to read a light pirate novel and it is much easier to find.