There’s a new adventure of Captain Jack Sparrow setting sail this week, and I don’t mean the new film, On Stranger Tides, which opens in theaters this Friday, May 20th.
Nope, I’m talking about the new, full-length hardcover novel Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom which hits bookstores on May 17th.
Popular genre author A.C. Crispin has crafted a tale of a much younger Jack Sparrow. In this tale of the sea, Jack is about 25 years old. He’s already had a past of pirating, but because he broke the Pirates Code, he’s an outcast from Shipwreck Cove, the Brethren Court and the ever mysterious Teague, the Keeper of the Code (not to mention, as we saw in At Worlds End, Jack’s papa).
When we first encounter Jack in the novel he’s the First Mate on the Fair Wind, a merchant vessel of the East India Trading Company. Jack is doing his level best to be a respectable seaman. But, you know what they say about best intentions.
The Fair Wind is attacked by pirates, and it’s captain dies, setting off a chain of events that leads to Jack being given his own ship, the Wicked Wench, by a young Cutler Beckett who is trying to make a name for himself in the East India Trading Company. Thus is born Captain Jack Sparrow.
The events of the novel take Jack and his crew, including his loyal first mate Robby Greene, from the coast of Africa, to the Caribbean and to the mysterious island of Zerzura. Along the way we meet the Pirate Lady Esmeralda, and the quite hard-on-the-eyes Ayisha (who is secretly the beautiful Amenirdis, princess of Zerzura in disguise) upon both of whom Jack plies his considerable charms.
We are treated to a story that goes between the "present day" of 25 year old Jack taking on his first real command, and that of a younger 20 year old Jack, still a pirate, and the events that lead up to his breaking of the Pirate Code.
A.C.Crispin is no stranger to writing media tie-ins, having written books in the Star Trek, Star Wars, and V universes, and she handles the established characters deftly. Readers are also introduced to several new character that are right at home in the Pirates of the Caribbean universe established by the movies.
The Price of Freedom is a rollocking adventure that is more than worthy to be a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean lore. I can’t speak to the authenticity of the nautical jargon bandied about by the various crews in the story, but I do know that Ms. Crispin started researching the operation of sailing vessels over three years ago. It read true to this landlubber.
The Price of Freedom is certainly a must-read for any fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and fans of nautical fiction in general. It’s high adventure with great characters and that makes for quite the enjoyable read.
If I had any complaints it’s simply that the Jack in most of the novel is not quite the Jack Sparrow we know from the films. The story is something of an origin story of how Captain Jack Sparrow ends up the man he is when we first meet him at the beginning of Curse of the Black Pearl. So, if it’s that fully-realized, little-loopy pirate Jack you wish to read about, you may be a bit disappointed. However, it was great fun to see the parts of Captain Jack as we know him start to come together, whether it’s the tricorn hat, or the black eyeliner the pieces are all there.
Personally, as a fan of the franchise, I’m thrilled that there is finally a full-length Pirates of the Caribbean novel aimed at an adult audience. Previously there was only junior novelizations of the first three movies, and a 12 book series of Jack Sparrow novels for younger readers featuring a teenaged Jack on various adventures. I hope The Price of Freedom does well so that Disney puts out more novels for fans to enjoy between movies.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom goes on sale everywhere on May 17th.