Mitch's Reviews > Steel

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
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's review
Mar 25, 2012

it was ok

This book felt more like a historical tour of a working pirate ship than a real adventure. I think when writing this the author got a little too excited/carried away by all the pirate facts she compiled and forgot to focus on developing the plot as much. As a result, even the main character Jill admits the thing she learned after everything was how fiercely independent lady pirates are, not exactly a great sign.

Jill’s basically a tourist on the working pirate ship. She’s forced to scrub the decks, drink pirate ale, and eat pirate rations, while learning about the rules of piracy, how slaves are treated, who the important pirates are, etc. Interesting? Sure, but I’d get the same information from reading Wikipedia or a biography about Blackbeard. Henry and to a lesser extent Captain Cooper are her tour guides, and they’re both about as exciting and relatable as a fairly good tour guide on a modern working pirate ship. But as part of the plot, Henry doesn’t do much more than show Jill the ropes, while Captain Cooper, who supposedly takes Jill under her wing, is portrayed too much as a stoic, above the crew, tough captain to be really relatable. I’m sure she makes a good historically accurate pirate, but not a very complex historical fantasy figure.

The main plot to go after Captain Blane and destroy his cursed sword isn’t really well integrated into the story at all. He’s pretty much ignored during the first couple of chapters on pirate life, and then the chase for him later sort of becomes more of a show and tell on pirate society and norms. Jill’s sole character development (besides learning about pirates) comes when she duels Blane towards the end of the book, but I’m not sure what she gains from the experience … confidence? self-respect? I’m not sure, all I know is that she admires pirates now.
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