Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blaggard's Moon Sets Sail

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Time to wrap up the CSFF tour for the month. I've been discussing the books of George Bryan Polivka with my new...uh, friend, Spinner Sleeve.

Ye mockin' me boy?

No sir! He's one of the stars of the pirate treasure of a novel Blaggard's Moon. Over the last couple of posts, I've discussed the Trophy Chase trilogy by Polivka. The books, impressive to begin with, improved throughout the series. I wondered how he would follow it up.

Blaggard's Moon is actually a prequel to the series, which is an interesting place to go, as it has the potential for disaster (see Lucas, George). It was advertised as the musings of Smith Delaney, one of the supporting characters from the trilogy, as he awaits his certain death. Which might not be so certain, since he appears in later books.

Don't get cute here. What say ye about the story of Blaggard's Moon?

Always interesting to blog with a sharp, pointy thing in your back. Anyway, as other blog tour members have noted, it has an interesting construction. Delaney is stuck on a pole over a pond from which the vicious mermonkeys (no really, these aren't your old sea monkeys) will surface in the dead of night to munch on his bones. He thinks over his own story on how he ended up in this predicament, yet it interlaces with a story told by master story-teller Ham Drumbone on a pirate ship.

Ham's story follows pirate king Conch Imbry, pirate hunter Damrick Fellows (boo!) and mysterious lady Jenta Smithmiller as intrigue, battle, and death weaves throughout. The reader is left guessing how this all ties together, which it does very nicely at the end.

Ye best be sayin' that.

Actually, I mean it. Even without duress, I loved this book. The beginning is a little confusing as Polivka settles us into the structure of the story, but he soon had me hooked. The author is a gifted story teller in his own right, with a vivid imagination and great description. He must have done exhaustive research, as he sets the reader on the high seas feeling the salt air, or ducking the musket balls and choking on the gunpowder. I'm not a nautical person, but the authenticity shows through strongly.

It is almost as good as the characterization. I've not read another author who so clearly imbues each character with their unique way and feel. I knew the characters, and the myriad cast is very enjoyable without any confusion. From Lady Jenta to minor pirate captains to the businessman Runsford Ryland, each stands strong with their own voice. My only complaint is that Polivka doesn't always stay in one character's point of view in a segment, making it confusing sometimes knowing whose head you're in. He's spoken before on why he writes this way, but it still doesn't change the confusion.

The story has a suspenseful plot with well-described action, heartfelt romance, wrenching tragedy, and a touching theme. I enjoyed it more than the Trophy Chase trilogy because his heroes are more heroic. In the trilogy, he used the main character Packer Throme to wrestle with theological issues (which were pretty much keeping in-character for Packer, being a former seminary student), but this wrestling, while poignant, slowed the action down. There's a touch of that here, but the story blazes on overall.

Okay, yer point has been made. Ye love the book. Good answer, so I guess me n'the boys will be lookin' fer some other bloggers to hassle.

You know, a "blogger" isn't a "blaggard".

It ain't! Why, the lousy rat who sent me here will have a new blowhole when I'm a'done with him. Have ye anything else to say?

Blaggard's Moon is a very enjoyable and highly recommended read for the casual fiction fan. For my writing friends, you should check Polivka out for his talented characterization and rich description and world-building. So far, this is my favorite book of the year. (Oh, and I don't think Mr. Sleeve has read the end of the book. I actually don't think he can read period.)

ADDENDUM: I'm a physician assistant, and I did a physical on a very nice gentleman who would have nonetheless been a perfect fit for one of Polivka's characters. Missing front teeth, bandana on his head, somewhat scraggly beard, he fit the part to a tee. Made me a little nervous about REALLY having a visitor with me while I blog...


  1. Very enjoyable reading your conversation with the pirate! And you had a "real" pirate in your clientele. Are they all around us? Food for thought.

  2. Anonymous3:08 PM

    Great series of posts, Jason. Your pirate ... friend added a nice touch of humor! I agree with you on everything except the omniscient point of view. It never bothered me and I hardly noticed it. I only thought about it sort of after the fact, wondering how he managed the three-layered structure. I suspect Bryan writes instinctively and doesn't even think about POV. As I assess it, he used close third for Delaney's scenes and omniscient for the others. The part that was Delaney remembering was camera-view omniscient, and the part that was Ham telling the story was omniscient narrator (which allowed him to tell us what they thought, not just what someone witnessed). It was an incredible piece of writing, I thought.


  3. Hi Jason,

    I really enjoyed all three of your posts! You write some pretty good pirate :). I also enjoyed the series overview.

    You commented on Monday that you were curious to read my review, considering that I'm new to Polivka's writing. I'm actually very glad that I started with this book and didn't research the trilogy before I read it; if I'd known Smith Delaney was going to live, the experience of the book would have been considerably lessened. Enough bad stuff happens in the book that I really didn't have any guarantees, and at the end I really thought he was dying. Glad he didn't; I liked him.

  4. Hi Jason,

    Certainly enjoyed your commandeering (pirating?) of Spinner Sleeve and company! Nicely done.


  5. Great set of posts covering the books. Thanks for the review.

  6. lol too funny! thanks for that