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The History of Maritime Piracy

Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425


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Books for Adults - Fiction

Cover Art:
          Tantamount
Tantamount
By Thomas J. Radford
Tyche Books, 2013, ISBN 978-0-9918369-9-4, $16.95
E-book ISBN 978-1-928025-00-9, $3.99

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Being assaulted by flying cutlery is a rather dangerous alarm clock, at least from Nel Vaughn’s perspective. At first she fears the escalating argument between Tantamount’s cook and navigator is what precipitously rocks the ship in the void of space. Her arrival on the bridge shows the error of that thinking. It’s the mangled debris of a smashed Alliance ship ricocheting off the hull. Then dead bodies begin to appear, so Captain Horatio Phelps orders Nel, his first officer, to investigate. Only one man seems to have survived the carnage.

Although Horatio is nominally the captain of Tantamount, Nel is the actual Skipper. She’s a tough woman who can get herself and the ship out of most predicaments, and while she pretends otherwise, the misfits who crew the ship are special to her. Well, all except Castor Sharpe, the survivor who seems a bit too suave with ready answers, but never really seems to answer questions. She suspects he’s up to something because his story feels “like a bad tavern tale, the sort that ended in tragedy or at least a cruel joke” – one she wants no part of. (21)

When a mast from the smashed ship embeds itself in the Tantamount’s hull, they must divert from their current course to make repairs. The only place to do so is Cauldron, a port away from the usual lanes where ships fly and a place where questionable trades can be made for a price. The only problem is they lack sufficient funds to make the needed repairs. Not to fear, Horatio loves to gamble and his winnings should cover the cost. Except he rarely wins, and this time he wagers the ship’s papers. The only way to get out of this predicament is to agree to deliver a secret cargo to a nearby planet that’s currently at war with a neighboring planet. This means they will have to get past the Alliance’s blockade, and those ships are bigger and better armed.

If things aren’t complicated enough, Nel discovers her tail-wagging, adolescent cabin girl has disappeared. Sharpe and the navigator discover she’s been kidnapped by slavers, which forces Nel to trust Sharpe to help her rescue the girl. And time is running out, for Tantamount will sail once all the repairs are completed and the cargo is loaded.

Although not a true tale of pirates, this science fiction adventure captivates readers and takes them for a ride with more twists than a celestial dragon. Mystery and intrigue abound. The misfits rapidly worm their way into your heart until you are compelled to step into their world, which teeters on the fringes between legal and illegal.

 
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Review Copyrighted ©2015 Cindy Vallar


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