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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
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Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults

The Dangerous Legacy                Deadly Waters

Cover Art: The Dangerous Legacy
The Dangerous Legacy: A Pirate’s Calling
By Darren Simon
Tell-Tale Publishing Group, 2016, ISBN 978-1944056162, $20.00
Kindle e-book $2.99


This exciting young adult fantasy plucks a boy from the present day back to the Age of Pirates. Actually, this Age of Pirates is mostly in an alternate reality where magical powers are wielded as weapons and other powers abound.

The author uses excellent descriptions that provide vivid mental pictures of places and sights the protagonists experience throughout the story. The magical places in Simon’s alternate reality are both fascinating to behold and believable enough as you go on this adventure.

In the Prologue, set in 1715, we meet Jonathan Every aboard a ship bound for London. He’s trying to escape the dreaded pirate, Jem Slayer, but senses his nearing presence. Before Jonathan can convince the ship’s captain of this, Slayer and his ship appear and come alongside. Despite offering no resistance, the captain is murdered. Slayer has a flaming sword and to do battle with him Jonathan draws his own flaming blade from a sword-shaped mark on his body. But Slayer and his magic are too much for Jonathan. Rather than lose the power of his sword to Slayer he drives it into his own stomach. Before dying Every tells Slayer he hopes an ancestor will be strong enough to defeat him someday.

The story begins in present-day California. On the first page we meet Sam Every and get to know him through his inner voice. As the story unfolds his thoughts, emotions, memories, and dreams are shared with the reader as a silent narrator. As for Sam, he thinks of himself as a thirteen-year-old “skinny violin-playing orchestra nerd.”(1) He’s definitely not the hero type. But he does have a large birthmark on his back that looks like a sword!

Imagine his surprise as things start happening that point to his being the “Chosen One” to save some kidnapped children and the fate of the world as he knows it. A girl named Sarah has come to bring him back in time to defeat Jem Slayer. Despite his doubts and fears Sam consents to leave everything and everyone behind and face his dangerous legacy!

They arrive at New Providence in 1718. Although once a lawless settlement of pirates and merchants, now it is home to Governor Woodes Rogers, British soldiers, planters, and those former pirates who took the King’s Pardon. Around the harbor are signs of recent damage and mournful souls.

Sarah explains that Slayer, aboard the Reaper, attacked the town and took the children. She then tells Sam about a dangerous mythical sword Slayer may have located and how he needs to sacrifice twenty innocent children to control the sword. Sarah also tells Sam how a Chosen One with the mark of the sword will come and is the only one who can defeat Slayer. When Sam expresses his disbelief that he could be this Chosen One, Sarah insists he has strong magic he must learn to use.

Thus begins the perilous quest to locate the mythical sword and defeat Slayer. Along the way they meet and travel with a mysteriously helpful man named Thaddeus Milan. Together they encounter Captain Charles Vane with his crew of cutthroats and the reformed pirate Captain Benjamin Hornigold with his crew of pirate hunters aboard the Ranger. Both captains are lavishly dressed and well-armed, as you would expect. They also have a run-in with Slayer that destroys the boat they’re using.

All through the book the Age of Piracy is brought to life. The pardoned pirates on New Providence stagger out of taverns still holding their drinks while others cry after Slayer’s attack. A sailor calls another a “scurvy dog.” Vane’s crewmen are drinking when they should be on lookout and even the now-honorable Ben Hornigold can’t resist playing a prank to entertain his crew.

The different dangers Sam and Sarah encounter help Sam learn about the powers of his sword and how to use his magic. More importantly, they give Sam the opportunity to change from an “orchestra nerd” to a stronger, braver person prepared to face the challenges ahead.

Events pick up speed once they near the location of the mythical sword. The things revealed during the final confrontation with Slayer and the outcome of the battle itself leave readers shocked, surprised, and hooked to read the next book in the series.

Meet the author

Read Darren Simon's article about writing The Dangerous Legacy

Review Copyrighted ©2016 Irwin Bryan

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Cover art: Deadly Waters
Deadly Waters
by Darrin Simon
Tell-Tale Publishing, 2018, ISBN 978-1944056803, $15.00
Ebook format also available


This second Young Adult book in the Pirate’s Calling series continues the tale of Sam Every, an unlikely hero from the twenty-first century, who was transported through time to the Age of Pirates. He was brought there by a girl named Sarah to defeat Jem Slayer, an evil conjurer with great powers. Now, Sam must continue this struggle after learning that Sarah and a comrade – two people he fully trusted – have deceived him. In addition, he is grievously injured in a fight against Slayer.

Once again, former pirate Ben Hornigold and some friends from Sam’s time period join in his quest. Together they travel through magical realms and Caribbean waters in a continuing effort to defeat Slayer.

Although Sam has been in this fight for a while, he continues to doubt his abilities and his courage like the orchestra-nerd he was when Sarah first met him. Instead of being hardened by all he has experienced, the fact he was defeated once by Slayer and the disabling injuries he sustained have left him questioning his chances for success.

Sam’s powers guide Hornigold’s ship through a magical realm and into an open sea. But Slayer is waiting for them, commanding a Royal Navy warship. A sea battle ensues with Slayer and Sam unleashing magic projectiles at each ship. Most of Hornigold’s crew are killed and the rest tragically abandoned on the sinking ship when Slayer wins the day. Hornigold, Sam, and Sam’s friends are taken prisoner.

An unconscious Sam awakens to find himself wrapped in chains that cut into his skin and imprisoned in a cell aboard Slayer’s ship. Hurt, alone and in the dark, Sam despairs of his chances for success or ever returning home again. Then he thinks of the pirate crew and that they, like others, all died trying to help him. With grim determination he stops doubting himself and vows to defeat Slayer.

Strangely, Sam’s guards are dressed as Royal Marines, but worship Lord Slayer. Sam realizes Slayer controls their minds, but not his. He also realizes he’s being kept alive for a reason but what?

Unwilling to become Slayer’s ally, Sam is told they will reach land that day and he will hang in the morning. His Royal Marine guards transfer him to a dungeon ashore where he awaits his fate and searches for a way to prevent it.

Two other famous pirates from history now enter the story: a cross-dressing woman and her captain. Together they help Sam escape and begin a new quest announced in a cryptic note. To succeed they battle a vicious sea monster guarding a magical island and rescue Sarah’s sister. Realizing Slayer has moved his plans forward, they head straight to London and a final confrontation with Slayer. Their hunt takes them into the Tower of London, passing through open gates in thick walls, and crossing a moat before entering the castle where Slayer awaits them.

Will Sarah help Sam after seeing her sister? Do Sam and his friends return to their own time? Will Slayer get defeated or will Sam meet his Maker?  Does anyone live happily ever after? You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out!

Readers of this book will be caught up in the action. All kinds of characters come to life within these pages. The pirates sound and act like pirates and even the demons and creatures seem real. The vivid descriptions effortlessly paint pictures of the surroundings and many mortal struggles that take place. Like Sam, you’ll rush from one danger to another in this great page-turner that’s better than the first book in the series.

Review copyrighted ©2018 Irwin Bryan

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