This month CSFF is touring George Bryan Polivka’s Blaggard’s Moon, a pirate epic. This isn't the first time I've reviewed a pirate story; I've already looked at The Ballad of Scabbard Pete, a more fantastic work in progress.
Blaggard's Moon, meanwhile, is a literarily ambitious work; Polivka tries to give a positive answer to the question, "Can a novel really have its main character perched atop a post like a stylite for nearly 400 pages?" Surprisingly, it can and does.
There are four stories here: Delany sitting on a post in the middle of a piranha-infested lake as he waits to be filleted alive, his memories of how he got there (neither many nor coherent until near the end), the ship's storyteller narrating an apparently unrelated tale, and the tale he tells, about Damrick Fellows, the scourge of pirates, and Jenta Stillmithers, the lady he keeps failing to properly meet, woo, and win.
This last story takes up most of the book, as Damrick attempts to break up a pirate conspiracy led by Conch Imbry and his surrogate brain, Mart Mazeley, and Jenta tries to keep her honor relatively intact. This is no small feat, considering that Conch wants her. She has also attracted the attention of a certain dissolute wimp—or more concisely, a panty-waistrel—who is also the scion of the largest shipping line in the area. But worms can turn, and there is a constant movement of courage in the story as hopes and strength wax and wane.
I began this intro with a comparison of sorts: Blaggard’s Moon and The Ballad of Scabbard Pete. Although I haven't read widely in this genre, I suspect that the comparison works beyond this pair. Scabbard Pete is a fantasy throughout, and its pirates are relatively romanticized; Pete himself is, for all his faults, a maritime Robin Hood. While there are a few fantastic elements in Blaggard's Moon, it is mostly realistic, and any romance to the pirates is only a thin veneer: they are evil and enjoy torturing people. Some of the more annoying tropes of modern fantasy get little more than a nod here, and even then they are handled believably. So this can probably be considered the flagship of modern pirate stories. Let's see how she sails.
Tomorrow, the good points of Blaggard’s Moon. In the meantime, check out the rest of the CSFF tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Rachel Starr Thomson
1 year ago