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

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Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults

Isle of Swords                Isle of Fire

Cover Art: Isle of Swords
Isle of Swords
by Wayne Thomas Batson
Thomas Nelson, 2007, ISBN 978-1-4003-1018-0, US $16.99
Papberback 978-1-4003-1363-1, $9.99

Meet Declan Ross, a pirate captain with a conscience and a troublesome teenage daughter. Anne’s one ambition in life is to join her father’s crew. Of course, making that dream come true is fraught with unforeseen consequences – a badly beaten young man who can’t remember who he is, a commander of the Royal Navy intent on seeing all pirates dance the hempen jig, and a monk who possesses secret knowledge regarding a treasure beyond reckoning. To complicate matters still, there’s the sadistic and vengeful Bartholomew Thorne who cares little for human life, especially if it crosses his path. And that’s exactly what happens when Ross and the William Wallace encounter and best one of Thorne’s captains – “The Butcher.”

More than once, Anne’s attempts to gain her father’s attention and acceptance endanger everyone else’s lives. Tripping over an unconscious lad whose back has been shredded by a cat-o’-nine tails is another instance where her plans go awry. She’s thankful Cat survives his flogging, but her father’s interest in the amnesiac makes her jealous. While her father and his men are ashore gathering needed supplies, she convinces Cat to accompany her on an exploratory journey to see if he remembers anything about his past. She intends to dump him there, but those plans go awry when they stumble upon a decimated village populated only by ghostly, and ghastly, skeletons. The arrival of Commodore Blake and his troops prevent their escape. When Captain Ross learns of the capture, he and his crew, along with a crafty Frenchman who delights in fire and things that go BOOM!, barely rescue and escape with the prisoners.

Now that both Thorne and Blake pursue them, they must find new hunting grounds. The William Wallace sets sail for a safe haven established by priests, only to discover that Thorne has given the monks three days to deliver what he wants or be destroyed. They convince Ross to take Padre Dominquez aboard the Wallace, for he is whom Thorne seeks. The padre, a member of a secret order known as the Brethren, knows the location of Constantine’s treasure, and they must not allow Thorne to get hold of that, for if he does, he will be invincible. But Thorne is hot on their trail and has no intention of forgetting about the treasure. He shall have it, no matter who or what tries to stop him.

Needless to say, Isle of Swords is an adrenal-rushing, roller-coasting, eye-opening ride that never allows you to take more than a few breaths before soaring high or plunging low. All the characters, even the most despicable, leap from the pages, preventing you from jumping ship when the twists and turns threaten to derail the ride. There are a myriad of personal stories running through this tale, but each is intricately woven into the main plot with the skill of a spider spinning its web. The journey to and from the Isle of Swords is one you will savor long after you close the cover. Written for young adults, this is one pirate adventure even salty old sea dogs will enjoy.

Book Review Copyright ©2008 Cindy Vallar

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            Art: Isle of Fire
Isle of Fire
By Wayne Thomas Batson
Thomas Nelson, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4003-1216-0, US $16.99

Once again Cat, Anne Ross, her father Declan Ross, and their friends find themselves in the midst of a maelstrom from which they may or may not survive. Cat’s memory slowly returns, but the images he sees lead him to believe he’s as evil as his father, Bartholomew Thorne. Father Brun, the abbot of the Brethren monks, refuses to accept that notion and asks Cat to lead the Brethren monks on an expedition to destroy the Merchant, a legendary villain who has wreaked devastation throughout history. Cat agrees, but only if Declan Ross allows Anne to be Cat’s quartermaster.

Declan believes Cat wants to marry his daughter, and is shocked and relieved when he learns what the lad truly wants. Since he’s now a pirate hunter and isn’t quite certain his nemesis, Bartholomew Thorne, is dead, Declan believes Anne may be safer aboard Cat’s vessel as his quartermaster than sailing with her father. Perhaps he’s right, for when Declan and his men encounter the devilish Edmund Bellamy, the Robert Bruce may not survive.

Commodore Brandon Blake believes with Declan’s help the British can stamp out piracy, but someone close to Blake manipulates the king into charging the commodore with treason. This treachery comes at the behest of the Merchant, who has formed an alliance with Bartholomew Thorne, who intends to conquer the world with the help of Raukar warriors – men who still practice the faith and ways of their forefathers, the Vikings. Which side will win once they meet at the Isle of Fire?

Within the pages of this sequel to Isle of Swords the reader reunites with many heroes and villains of that story, while making the acquaintance of quite a few new characters – most of them far more dangerous and wicked than their predecessors. Even though this volume picks up where the first book left off, Isle of Fire is a stand alone story (although I highly recommend reading its predecessor first). Isle of Fire is like an intricate maze where each path leads in unexpected directions while none seem to connect to the center. In reality the story is deftly constructed until all subplots unite in an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat finale that sweeps you into an amazing, yet chilling, world of pirates and pirate hunters.

Review Copyright ©2009 Cindy Vallar

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