18 September 2010

Books: On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (1987)


Tim Powers is a great fantasy writer and probably a very underrated author. Like Charles de Lint, his fantasy novels are set in the real world, only in a world where magic still exists. On Stranger Tides is well researched historical novel about pirates, creepy voodoo, adventure, romance, magic and the search for the Fountain of Youth. It is the story of John Chandagnac, an itinerant puppeteer on a journey to the Caribbean to confront the uncle who cheated his father out of the family fortune. Things get complicated, however, when his ship is captured by pirates and he finds himself made an unwilling member of their crew. As he comes to fully inhabit the world of the pirates, he encounters the terrible powers which still hold sway in the untamed New World. All the while, he must find a way to save the woman he loves from a hideous fate.

Powers novel, released back in 1987, is sort of homage to Disneyland’s Pirates of the Carribean ride. The author grew up in Anaheim and spent his time at the theme park. But while its inspired by it, the novel becomes complex and at times, weighed down in too much ennui.

I remember when this novel was originally published, but I sort of passed it over. It was out of print for a number of years and since now published by small publisher Babbage Press, this novel is being loosely adapted in Pirates of the Carribean 4, which will be released in the summer of 2011. To be honest, that was the reason I finally ordered the book. I wanted to see what the book was about and how much Disney will change the premise to fit its franchise, I mean its full of voodoo, zombies, blood, gore, and bazaar fantasies on the part of one of the bad guys. So expect a lot of toning down of this stuff. Also, Disney is adding new characters to the film that will not appear in the book.

As a whole, I liked the book, but will admit it was a bit laborious to get through. Powers writing is strong and he writes, at times, in great detail. Some of which is rather pointless and difficult.

It’s worth the read, though. And it should be an interesting counterpoint to Disney’s fourth film in their Pirates of the Carribean franchise. If anything, it might introduce Tim Powers to a whole slew on new fans who will take up his work.

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