Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Stranger Tides

...or how Disney made fanfiction acceptable to a wide audience. Sort of.

This week I am looking at the book On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, a romping pirate tale that involves Caribbean islands, magic, zombies, the Fountain of Youth and Blackbeard the Pirate. There are also some Daddy daughter issues that involve Mommy's mummified head (this is one of the spots that Disney's latest entry into the Pirates franchise deviates from the source material).

I had never heard of this book before and only picked it up after I saw the latest Pirates movie. While sitting through the credits I noticed that there was one for this book. My interest was piqued so I decided to pick the book up. I like to think it was a good decision on my part. Of course, my views on the book were flavored and it took my until part two to finally stop wondering when Jack Sparrow was going to show up and when I was going to see some of the things, and by things I mean huge plot points, that also appeared in the movie.

After I finished the book, I came to the conclusions that Disney was probably just covering their bases when they said that their movie was based on this book. I could see somewhat where the movie might have been slightly inspired by, and obviously the title was taken directly from this book, but there aren't many similarities aside from what I mentioned in that opening paragraph.

This book is much darker than the Disney movie, there are some pretty dark, adult themes. One character, a main character, only wants to use his magic so that he can rape women in mind and body which is something that Disney appears to have dropped. Blackbeard/Ed Thatch is much fiercer in this book and is not the man with the Daddy daughter issues. As far as we know, he doesn't have any daughters, just a string of dead or insane wives.

Oh! But both main characters are named Jack. Granted, Jack Shandy in the book is not even a pirate technically speaking and he's not very funny. He's your typical hero that turns into a drunkard 3/4's of the way through that then redeems himself in the end.

I really did enjoy this book. It was a great read. Lots of action, magic and New World exploration; even some legal maneuvering, there's an entire subplot about forged inheritances. I also liked that the author did not really gloss over or try to pretty up the race relations of the time. Not all of the language fell into the patios of the time and was contemporary, but it worked. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys pirates, or voudoun. It is not for younger readers, though. Mature themes and all that.


  1. body/mind rape and alcoholism aren't for the youngins? Damn, I'd make a terrible parent. This actually sounds like a great read!

  2. Yeah, those are generally deemed unacceptable topics for the youngins. I was pleasantly surprised by this book, thinking that it would just be a bodice ripper of sorts, and then it wasn't.