Monday, April 20, 2009

Blaggard's Moon - Day 1

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:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson


Brandon said...

Hi Keanen,
I too totally enjoyed this book. Great post. I think grade school ages would completely dig this story.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Thanks for the etymology of Blaggard. I didn't know any of that. Today we tend chop the ends of words, so tattoos become tats and applications become apps. Only the method of our laziness seems to have changed! ;-)

I'm glad you weren't disappointed, Keanan. Sometimes the books we most look forward to are the ones that have the hardest time living up to our expectations.

I really do hope the word gets out about this book. It's masterfulin its characterizations and unique in its story structure.

A real joy to tour.


Keanan Brand said...

Brandon - Yup, yup, yup!

Becky - I'm a word geek. (I was the kid who really did read the dictionary for fun!)

As for the word getting out, I am going to do my part, that's certain. When a book really grabs me, I talk about it to just about everyone. (When I copy edited, I'd be talking up books before they ever hit the press -- but only, as previously stated, if they grabbed me.) I'll be checking out the trilogy, too.

Anonymous said...

Keanen, Thanks for your informative post. I too was a reader above my age level. I loooooved this book now and would have loved it as a kid also. Good post! Keep up the good work. :)

Jason said...

Good comparison to The Princess Bride book - very apropros. This is turning out to be a great tour (should be, with a great book).

Keanan Brand said...

Jesse - There should be reading support groups for kids who go from reading Clifford the Big Red Dog to reading A Midsummer Night's Dream. (laugh)

Jason - I wish I had written that comparison a little better, but I didn't want to turn to focus away from Blaggard's Moon. Suffice to say that they are both among the favorites in my library.