The April feature for the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour is a superb pirate-themed fantasy, Blaggard's Moon by George Bryan Polivka, prequel to the Trophy Chase Trilogy.
Ever since I read the title on a list of upcoming books on the tour, I've been looking forward to reading the novel. After all, with a name like Blaggard's Moon, it had to be full of pirate-y, fantasy goodness.
Indeed, it is, and it does not disappoint.
First, a few words about the title: Blaggard is a corruption of blackguard, a term in use since about the middle of the sixteenth century, and originally meaning the servants who worked in the kitchen or in the scullery (where the dishes and utensils were cleaned and kept, and where the messier cooking tasks were done). These servants tended toward muckiness from the dirty dishes, and sootiness from the massive fireplaces, and thus were dubbed "the black guard"--guard being a term for anything from a small armed force to an entire army. And those old great houses did require armies of servants.
Later, probably because of the coarse manners and raw language employed by the servants among themselves, blackguard came to mean someone who not only uses foul language but behaves badly, anything from mere rudeness to full-blown illegality, manipulation, and various vile activities. And, with the passage of time and the way we humans tend toward laziness in our speech, the word transformed to blaggard. In much the same way, forecastle became focsle, boatswain became bosun, and gunwale became gunnel.
Enough etymology -- on with the voyage!
The book opens with pirate Smith Delaney sitting on a pole, waiting death by piranha-like fish and flesh-eating mermonkeys. But, as in The Princess Bride by Willam Goldman, one has only to wait -- the story is bound to flip around on itself.
Delaney is the character that guides the reader through the story, or succession of stories, all part of one another, all telling one big story. Some of them are his own direct memories, and some are his memories of tales told by another, Ham Drumbone, whose gift for storytelling could sway an entire crew of pirates, despite their repeated calls for only the fight scenes -- another parallel with The Princess Bride, which is subtitled "The Good Parts Version".
Blaggard's Moon is all good parts. I was never bored by the story, and found all the characters to be engaging, even the villains. The writing is excellent, the story intruiging, and I recommend it to all readers; though it's more for adults, teens and even pre-teens might enjoy to story. As a kid, I read a lot of books deemed too heavy or complicated or adult-oriented for a grade-schooler, and I looked for more. This book has made me hungry for more, and I look forward to adding the other books to my collection.
More tomorrow. Meantime, check out these other stops on the tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Rachel Starr Thomson