Dinosaurs to Pirates
When you think of Michael Crichton, you probably think of Jurassic Park or The Lost World. Or if not those specific works, you think of some type of intense science thriller. Well, that's what I thought first too, until I found Pirate Latitudes snug in the shelves of my library. I was baffled. Michael Crichton writing a pirate book? I quickly perused through the book, checking if it was a misprint or some other Michael Crichton, or just someone's idea of playing a horrid joke. I read the author page and it was the same Crichton that wrote my favorite scientifically accurate thrillers, and that it was a work that was published posthumously.
After confirming the identity of the author, I began to read. I wasn't sure what type of pirates was in question. Maybe since it's Michael Crichton, I figured it'd be about modern day pirates and drug cartels, or maybe even space pirates, or something with a scientific base. Nope. It was really PIRATES. As in 17th century pirates in the Caribbean. I was astonished and intrigued and it whet my literary appetite.
The premise is simple, pirate captain Charles Hunter is set out on request of the Governor of Jamaica to go to the fortress of Matanceros to steal the great treasures there that is set to be shipped to Spain. There he battles the Spaniard Cazalla who is in charge of the fortress. Simple right? Your typical pirate and adversary battles for treasure. However, keep in mind, this is a Michael Crichton pirate and adversary battle, and when he does it, he does it with style.
With the same attention to detail and accuracy as his science novels, Crichton treats his pirates the same way by describing in detail pirate navigation, the history of pirates in Jamaica at that time, and the historical context he places his setting. I was impressed with his work, as a fan of science and pirates, I feel that everyone could use a dosage of swashbuckling adventure with buccaneers. As a word of caution though, Crichton manages to kidnap you to his world, making you hear the clash of steel, smell the salt of the sea, and feel the gold doubloons between your fingertips. After all, who doesn't like pirates?