Peter's Reviews > The Noble Pirates

The Noble Pirates by Rima Jean
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
M_50x66
's review
Feb 22, 11

Read in December, 2010

Just as Sabrina Grainger falls off a party boat into the Caribbean in 2009, so the reader is dropped right into the action of The Noble Pirates, and R. L. Jean (a.k.a. Fiction Chick) makes the reader and her protagonist fend for themselves. Much easier for the reader who is aided by the accomplished storytelling than for poor Sabrina Grainger--a mother, wife, and attorney--whose plunge sinks her nearly three centuries into the world of pirates. None other than the infamous Edward England and his crew of sea rovers fish her out of the sea. At first she believes it all to be a hoax, that her awful smelling rescuers are actors in some kind of role-play. But she finds them as bewildered by her as she is by them.

But she's the one who must adapt and she does, in highly entertaining fashion, for a good 200 pages or so. Only the time travel resolution at the end offers any disappointment in its incongruity to all that comes before. On its own, the ending is fine, it just lacks the energy of the rest.

And the rest is very good.

England humors her claims to be from the future and takes her to Nassau. However, the Nassau of 1718 does not view women the same way as that of 2009, and Sabrina struggles in her efforts to reverse her situation. Nothing presents itself and so, seeing no alternative, Sabrina lobbies England to let her join him on a pirating venture to Africa. She develops some affection for England but he finds her a nuisance. He hands her over to the honest Captain of a slaver ship, Howel Davis, with whom Sabrina spends most of the rest of the story and for whom she develops a stronger attraction.

Two subordinates, Blain and Taylor, betray Davis and have him jailed for mutiny, leaving Sabrina on her own. When Davis is freed due to a lack of evidence, he is a bitter man and determines he'd be better off, "on the account," and heads to Nassau to begin his notorious pirating career. Sabrina signs on with a sister ship, follows him to Nassau, and from there doggedly clings to Davis because by now she's in love with the man. Not only that, she hopes to save his life, which she knows will end in a matter of months.

For when she fell in, Sabrina had a backpack that contained two books, a pirate romance and a history of pirates entitled, Rovers of the Sea. The latter includes biographies of England, Davis, and others she meets. It also tells the time and place of Davis's death. Even at the risk of affecting the future, she wants to save him from that. Her persistence pays off when he incorporates her into his pillaging and plundering. She apprises him of what she knows--and he believes her story--but that still can't stop him from captaining his ship toward his place of recorded death. They encounter Blain and Taylor again--another event foretold in the history book--but now Sabrina knows more about how she can get back to 2009. At this point she faces some difficult choices.

The first-person narrative of a modern woman in 1718 justifies the use of idioms from today's culture, allowing for less self-conscious writing. It also minimizes the danger of anachronisms. This is a clever thing to do, from an author's standpoint, as it subtly avoids another danger, that of the material becoming dated. More importantly, the blend pays off in both humor and clarity, as in the following:

***

The first-person narrative of a modern woman in 1718 justifies the use of idioms from today's culture, allowing for less self-conscious writing. It also minimizes the danger of anachronisms. This is a clever thing to do, from an author's standpoint, as it subtly avoids another danger, that of the material becoming dated. More importantly, the blend pays off in both humor and clarity, as in the following:England set his pipe down carefully, knitting his brow. "Because we found this floating with ye." From beneath the table, the captain withdrew my backpack. As I gasped, he continued, "I didn't let anyone look inside, save myself and my quartermaster, Jameson... It made him mighty wary of ye, lass, and angry with me when I protected ye."

I took the backpack eagerly from him, bubbling with excitement. Something from my life, something from the sane world... I unzipped it - it had definitely seen better days - and immediately began fishing for my Blackberry. I pulled it out joyfully, and on a whim tried to turn it on. Nice try, Sabrina. Then I went through the other items quickly: my iPod, also shot to hell; a blister pack of Dramamine for motion sickness (it sure would have been nice to have this a little while ago); my friend Tanya's makeup bag, most of the items inside in good condition, including three multi-colored, ribbed condoms (Christ, what had Captain England thought of that? At least they were still in their packaging); Sky's romance, most of it water-logged and illegible (thank God); another of Sky's books, Rovers of the Sea, still fairly legible since it was still wrapped in a Barnes & Noble bag; a couple bikinis and cover-ups; and finally, our wallets. I tore mine open, pulling out a picture of Sophie and clutching it tightly, the tears starting to well up.

***

Sabrina carries the narrative well, eschewing sentimentality for a gritty, realistic portrayal of the pirate era she's landed in. I particularly liked how, soon after this passage, Sabrina casts off her friend's pirate romance as useless, as if giving a cue to the reader saying, no, this story isn't going to be like one of those. However, Sabrina Grainger is not just a keen observer with a captivating voice. "I did not know what those choices were, and I could not let that stop me from doing something," she states at one point. The mantra of the quintessential protagonist.

The supporting characters are great too, capable of cheerful surprises and nasty whims. Whenever one is tempted to view Howel Davis as a Jack Sparrow, he does something cruel and un-Disney-ish. Eventually, I associated him more with Odysseus for his cunning and elaborate schemes.

What should not go unappreciated in the enjoyment of the story is the depth of research. The casual lightness of the prose could make that happen in that the products of the research are neatly woven into the story. It's clear great effort and care has gone into making The Noble Pirates as accurate and realistic as possible. Therefore one easily forgives the plot devices and grants suspension of disbelief in exchange for sharing Sabrina Grainger's plunge.

Well done.
1 like · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Noble Pirates.
sign in »

No comments have been added yet.