A pirate so bold

Piratica: Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl’s Adventure Upon the High Seas — Tanith Lee
Piratica, book 1

Piratica

2006’s Piratica: Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl’s Adventure Upon the High Seas is the first volume in Tanith Lee’s Piratica trilogy.

An exploding cannon cost Artemesia “Art” Fitz-Willoughby Weatherhouse her mother and her memory. At age sixteen, Artemesia regains her lost memories. They explain why she has never fit in at the Angels Academy for Young Maidens: Art is the daughter of Molly Faith, better known as the infamous pirate queen Piratica.

Escaping from the academy is trivial. So is trading her dress for trousers, her hated surname for the far more satisfactory “Blastside.” An encounter with a hapless highwayman provides her with a pistol and a very snappy hat. Luck leads her to stumble across the remnants of Piratica’s old crew. All she needs is a seaworthy boat and Art Blastside can pick up where her mother left off.

O Sing of the valour o’ a pirate so bold
Who robbed the seas over, and took all the gold
Of captains and traders, from Carrib to Inde,
And slipped by the nets of the Law like the wind

There is just one small complication.


Art’s recovered memories are incomplete. Her mother wasn’t exactly Piratica. Piratica was the stage actress Molly Faith’s most successful role. The explosion was real enough but it was a stage cannon; some of the characters were drawn from real life; but the adventures Art remembers are misremembered entertainments.

Art is a very very determined young woman and she is not about to let the fact that Piratica was fictional prevent her from taking up Piratica’s career where the late pirate left off. Piratica’s bold gambits prove as successful in the real world as they were on the stage. In short order, Art and her crew of easily dominated actors have stolen a ship, renamed it Unwelcome Stranger, and are off for the West Indies and adventure!

While Piratica was fictional, one of the actors’ props was very much real. A very real pirate named Golden Goliath was eager to relieve them of that object. The Golden Goliath died before he could succeed, but his beautiful, malevolent daughter Little Goldie Girl has taken up his quest. Like Art, Little Golden Girl has a crew and a ship. Unlike Art, Little Golden Girl’s crew are genuine pirates with no redeeming features whatsoever.

Little Golden Girl is not the worst of Art’s problems. The English Republic takes a very dim view of pirates, even the sort who never kill anyone. The Republic’s navy is a dab hand at hunting down the Republic’s enemies.

O sing of Piratica, Queen of the Sea
Bound now in irons and bound for the tree

 ~oOo~

Art’s world is not our world. The year is not 1802 but rather Seventeen-Twelvety; England is a Republic while France is still a monarchy. Why? Authorial fiat. This may also be the reason that Art’s methods, drawn from the stage, work so well on the seven seas. But real pirates are still pirates and most of them are bad 1. Art does not kill, but her rival Little Golden Girl certainly will and no doubt her minions would do worse given the chance.

While this book is aimed at younger readers, characters do die. When they do, there are no miraculous resuscitations. Art’s world is close enough to ours that the Republic seems to have its own version of the Bloody Code, so there is every chance that she will hang if she’s ever caught (and that assumes she does not simply get blown to bits in a cannon battle).

Death may be stalking Art but she remains steadfastly optimistic and determined, no matter what life throws at her. English society makes no allowance for women’s ambition (that Molly had ambitions beyond being a wife still enrages Art’s father). Art’s reaction is to cast convention aside, forge ahead, and damn the consequences.

I enjoyed this and am looking forward to the sequels.

I am not 100% sure Piratica is in print.

1: Readers may wonder why it is that the pirates are so much more competent than the highwayman we see. There are two explanations: one is that Cuckoo Jack is being supported by his hard-working wife Dolly. She is the one who carries out the successful robberies attributed to her hapless husband and his reputation by rights should be hers. The other is that any pirate as bad at piracy as Jack is at banditry would soon drown. If not from clumsy ship-handling, from poor ship maintenance.


Title

Missing or dead mothers

Missing or dead fathers

The Birthgrave

1

1

The Storm Lord

1

1

Volkhavaar

2

2

Drinking Sapphire Wine

0

0

Night’s Master

2

1

Shadowfire

2

1

Death’s Master

3

3

Sabella

1

1

Day By Night

1

2

Silver Metal Lover

0

0

Delusion’s Master

1

1

Cyrion

0

0

Anakire

2

1

Sung in Shadow

1

0

The White Serpent

1

1

The Book of the Beast

0

1

Electric Forest

1

0

The Book of the Mad

1

2*

Lycanthia

0

0

A Heroine of the World

1

1

The Winter Players

0

2

Delirium’s Mistress

1

0

The Blood of Roses

2

1

Castle of Dark

1

0

Prince on a White Horse

0

0

Heart-Beast

0

0

Quest for the White Witch

1

0

Shon the Taken

0

0

Black Unicorn

1

1

Gold Unicorn

0

1

Dark Dance

1

1

Personal Darkness

1

1

Darkness, I

0

0

Wolf Tower

1

1

Faces Under Water

0

0

Red Unicorn

0

1

Saint Fire

1

0

A Bed of Earth

1

1

Louisa the Poisoner

2

1

Venus Preserved

1

2

Metallic Love

1

1

White as Snow

1

1

Mortal Suns

1

1

Piratica

1

1

40 books

39* absent mothers

34** absent fathers

* Includes one aunt.

** Includes one uncle.



Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

Review Categories

By Author/Editor

Reviews by Date