Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
I always enjoy finding out interesting facts about the books I have just read. I don’t do this research before I read the book in fear of spoiling the story. Pirate Latitudes was written by Michael Crichton, but was not published until after he had died. The manuscript was found on one of Crichton’s computers by his assistant. The story is believed to have been written in the 70’s, but for some reason never released. There was one other completed manuscript found that was also published.
I’m not very good with author’s names as I still consider myself to be a fairly new reader. I recognize covers and pictures and that is how I choose my next book victim. It isn’t until I find a series or a book by an author that I like, that I will look into what other books they have written. I did not recognize Crichton’s name, even though I am familiar with some of his work. I have not previously read his books, but I had seen the Jurassic Park films based on his novels.
Pirate Latitudes is about pirating and privateering in 17th century Jamaica. The book comes complete with maps at the beginning and end pages which helps to visualize the journey through remote islands. Some places sound familiar, others I have never heard of before. One in specific I thought was interesting was the mention of Tortuga. I had only heard this place mentioned before in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but thought it was a fictional name. Tortuga is a small island in Haiti, and was discovered by Christopher Columbus. It was named for its visual similarities to that of a turtles shell. It was this island that pirates had decided to land and use for much of their activities.
Although pirates were prevalent in 17th century New World, there were strict laws against it. However, being so far from the crown, it was easy to turn a blind eye to sudden treasures that happened to find it’s way into their pockets. Charles Hunter is a captain in the town of Port Royal, he is well known and liked within the city for many of his privateering excursions have profited many of the towns people. Port Royal is described as a boisterous place full of drunks and whores. The story follows Charles Hunter, his crew and the governor of Port Royal, Sir James Almont. There are many others who become involved in the story, but these are our main heroes (depending on how you’d like to view them.) The English and the Spanish have settlements scattered throughout the Caribbean, and there is one Spanish settlement in particular that holds a large ship rumoured to hold an immense treasure. The only problem is it comes complete with a known to be impenetrable stronghold, and many cannons. Hunter and a unique crew that he gathers make the voyage complete with legendary sea villains and creatures, storms and other hazards of the sea.
The characters in this novel make the book for me. Even the most minute ones find a way to intrigue and provide humour. Crichton takes us on a dangerous and exciting adventure which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Since 2009 there have been rumours of a film adaptation done by none other than Steven Spielberg. Spielberg had also created the film adaptation for Crichton’s popular novels Jurassic Park. Pirate Latitudes is an easy and fun read that I think is worth checking out.