by Alex Bledsoe
Paperback, 350 pages
Tor Books, 2012
Read: May 28, 2014
I looked up at the stars. Finding one pirate after twenty years was a lot like picking one star out of this sky. Just when you thought you had it, a cloud slid by and you had to start all over when it the passed.
Yet that’s just what Eddie LaCrosse sets out to do — find the unfindable, track the untrackable. For those of you who don’t know — Eddie lives in a fairly standard fantasy realm, and makes his living as a “sword jockey” — what we’d call a P.I. in our world. These books are first person narratives and read a lot like good detective novels — but with swords, horses and the occasional dragon or whatnot.
Eddie doesn’t go alone on his search for a pirate — he brings along his old friend/colleague, Jane Argo. Jane’s a former pirate turned pirate hunter turned sword jockey and is as tough as that résumé suggests. Having her come along on this adventure as the Hawk/Joe Pike figure was a great addition to a series that I didn’t think required it. But now, I want more of her — back in Eddie LaCrosse #6, or in Jane Argo #1. I could be pleased either way, as long as it’s soon.
There’s adventure, piracy, sword-play, banter, friendship, and a bit of betrayal. Enough to keep you engaged, if not turning pages as quickly as you can. Every now and then, in the middle of this fun read, Bledsoe reminds you he can do more than tell a fun action story, and drop a sentence, or phrase that shows he’s just a good writer, period. One such line that stood out to me, and I’ve tried to find excuses to use in the last couple days is:
Hawk’s been called many things over the years, but you know what captures him best, in my opinion? That he’s simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.
You get a real clear idea about this Hawk guy, the image is pretty creepy in and of itself, and yet, it looks and sounds breezy unless you think about it. I like Eddie and the rest of his world plenty — but it’s that kind of thing that keeps me coming back to Bledsoe.
Part of me is glad I read Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies before this, if I hadn’t, I’d have spent too much time comparing the pirate-y bits between the two while reading — and I think Lynch would’ve come up short. Bledsoe did a great job of nailing the life of a ship (says the guy who gets too seasick to even contemplate a day-long voyage) — both the tedium of day-to-day and the excitement of the boarding.
The last thing I can think to note, is that this book briefly features the creepiest little girl I can remember since Let the Right One In. I really can’t talk about her without ruining too much, but let me just say that absolutely loved the way that Bledsoe used her.
I couldn’t have seen the ending coming, nor the details it revealed. But it worked, it absolutely worked both as an interesting plot development, and as strong character moments. So well done. Shame on me for putting this off for so long — not a mistake I’ll make again.*
* and I mean that — book 5, He Drank, and Saw the Spider came out this year, and is on my hold list at the library.