Home > Fiction Books > Pirate Latitudes: A Novel

Pirate Latitudes: A Novel

November 16th, 2010

Rating:
List Price: Add to cart to see price
Sale Price: Too low to display.

Book Overview:

From one of the best-loved authors of all time comes an irresistible adventure of swashbuckling pirates in the New World, a classic story of treasure and betrayal.The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses. In this steamy climate there's a living to be made, a living that can end swiftly by disease—or by dagger. For Captain Charles Hunter, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking, and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it. Word in port is that the galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in a nearby harbor. Heavily fortified, the impregnable harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of the Spanish king himself. With backing from a powerful ally, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the enemy outpost and commandeer El Trinidad, along with its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of island legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he even sets foot on foreign shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure. . . .Pirate Latitudes is Michael Crichton at his best: a rollicking adventure tale pulsing with relentless action, crackling atmosphere, and heart-pounding suspense.


Book Review

Read the book reviews below. If you have read , You can add your own review below.

out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12796 user reviews
Fiction Books From one of the best-loved authors of all time comes an irresistible adventure of swashbuckling pirates in the New World, a classic story of treasure and betrayal.The Caribbean, 1665. A remote colony of the English Crown, the island of Jamaica holds out against the vast supremacy of the Spanish empire. Port Royal, its capital, is a cutthroat town of taverns, grog shops, and bawdy houses. In this steamy climate there's a living to be made, a living that can end swiftly by disease—or by dagger. For Captain Charles Hunter, gold in Spanish hands is gold for the taking, and the law of the land rests with those ruthless enough to make it. Word in port is that the galleon El Trinidad, fresh from New Spain, is awaiting repairs in a nearby harbor. Heavily fortified, the impregnable harbor is guarded by the bloodthirsty Cazalla, a favorite commander of the Spanish king himself. With backing from a powerful ally, Hunter assembles a crew of ruffians to infiltrate the enemy outpost and commandeer El Trinidad, along with its fortune in Spanish gold. The raid is as perilous as the bloodiest tales of island legend, and Hunter will lose more than one man before he even sets foot on foreign shores, where dense jungle and the firepower of Spanish infantry stand between him and the treasure. . . .Pirate Latitudes is Michael Crichton at his best: a rollicking adventure tale pulsing with relentless action, crackling atmosphere, and heart-pounding suspense.
http://www.bookpool.org/387-pirate-latitudes-a-novel/
Categories: Fiction Books Tags: , ,
  1. M. Jacobsen
    November 16th, 2010 at 16:39 | #1

    Rating

    I miss Michael Crichton already and was so glad this book was found and published. It’s probably not what you’re used to when it comes to his medical/ethics thrillers, but can probably be categorized as historical fiction.

    He sets the story in 17th century Port Royal, Jamaica, home to all the shady pirates and privateers of the Caribbean. A motley band of pirates head out to storm a Spanish fortress in the Caribbean and capture a ship of Spanish gold. Of course things go amiss and the resulting adventure is a sound one.

    The characters are engaging and the plot is tight. This wasn’t meant to be “deep” reading, instead it’s a fun romp with enough period detail to make you feel as if you’re right there with them….personally, I didn’t put it down until I turned the last page. It was a fun read and makes me realize how much I’m going to miss this author.

  2. Dana A. Hess
    November 16th, 2010 at 19:39 | #2

    Rating

    This pirate tale in its published form would (I believe) be an embarassment to Michael Crichton. As many others have commented, the story is choppy and there’s next to no character development. Maybe there’s a reason he had left it in his files. Perhaps he was going to go back and flesh in the characters and storyline.

    The central plotline (such as it is) involves raiding a Spanish stronghold to capture a galleon filled with treasure. This is accomplished early on with very little detail or excitement. In another instance, the pirates are threatened by blood-thirsty savages… who make a half-hearted attempt to kill Captain Hunter and his crew and then apparently just give up and disapear! Also,one of the givens in most action-oriented thrillers is the villain who does something evil early on. You know that he/she is going to get his/her just desserts by the end of the story, and you look forward to it. In this tale, Hunter comes home to Port Royal after several disjointed (and disappointing) adventures and discovers something dastardly has happened while he was away. But, not to worry, the whole thing is sorted out in no time… and with little or no imagination.

    I’ve been a fan of Michael Crichton’s since reading The Andromeda Strain as a young boy. This just isn’t in the same class as the rest of his works, although I will admit there was some fun to it. My advice: If you feel you must buy this book, wait ’til it comes out in the $7.99 paperback. Or, better yet, borrow it from the library or a friend.

  3. John Galt
    November 16th, 2010 at 22:09 | #3

    Rating

    This is an okay book written somewhat in the style of James Nelson (who is a fine master of the particular style, and has written some fine pirate novels) more so than the style I’ve become accustomed to as coming from Dr. Crichton.

    Just an opinion, I got the feeling that it was not really intended to have been published in it’s current form. It felt almost like a fleshed out scene outline or screenplay for a movie, rather than as a contiguous print story. There were many places that felt unfinished (i.e. Characters were faced with unwinnable bad situations. Then, something happens [insert miracle-without-details here]. Cut to scene with resolution of problem). It was almost as if that was something to have been added later, or to have been worked through a different way other than in print.

    I enjoy sailing ship and pirate novels, so it was fine with regard to that topic.

  4. S. Ayriss
    November 17th, 2010 at 11:17 | #4

    Rating

    I do not think this book was intended to be published. It touches a little bit many plots without much substance. I had high expectations, the book was disappointing and crude. I am sad this was the book that closed such an amazing career for Mr. Crichton who is one of the best authors of our time.

  5. E. Heard
    November 17th, 2010 at 14:39 | #5

    Rating

    Michael Crichton’s “Pirate Latitudes” is everything you’re looking for in a pirate adventure. It doesn’t necessarily do anything new with the genre, but it will satisfy those who found the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” films too over-the-top and cartoony.

    This (relatively short) novel tells the story of pirate (he prefers “privateer”) Charles Hunter and his crew of super-pirates as they embark on a quest for the ultimate prize– a Spanish treasure galleon. I say “super-pirates” because each of his crew does one or two things extraordinarily well, creating a sort of “who’s who” of pirate archetypes. You have the stealth assassin, Sanson, who kills entire ship crews without making a sound. Then there is Bassa, the giant Moor who seems inspired by Fezzik from “The Princess Bride” and who kills with his bare hands. There is Lazue, the quintessential female pirate, who goes about as a man unless it suits her to use her feminine attributes and whose eyes are capable of spotting even the most camouflaged of reefs. There is Enders, the dependable helmsman, who can sail even the bulkiest of ships through the eye of a needle. And finally Don Diego aka “The Jew”, the crafty munitions expert, who does something with rat innards you will not believe.

    Other pirate tale staples appear as well: cannibals, damsels in distress, storms at sea, and sea monsters. The inclusion of the sea monster surprised me, given Crichton’s realistic account of 17th century pirate life up to that point. While my initial reaction was to scoff, I soon found myself going with the idea. Crichton was a man of science, and you get the impression that he is acknowledging the possibility that perhaps the strange stories of sea monsters told by the old seafarers of the past may have had some truth to them. I won’t go into too much detail about the monster, but its presence in the story is handled well. The sea monster scene is not particularly original, but it’s hard not to smile while reading it. Yes, we’ve seen it before, but it’s still fun to go over again with a new set of characters and circumstances.

    “Pirate Latitudes” doesn’t really hit its stride until about halfway through. From there on it is difficult to put down. The publisher’s description of the book is incomplete (probably intentionally so). Yes, Captain Hunter and his motley crew are indeed embarking on a dangerous mission to cut out a Spanish treasure galleon from a nigh unconquerable port, but that is only half the story. I will not give away any more, but will instead allow you to discover the rest for yourself as I did.

    As you read though the novel, you get the impression that this was something Crichton was writing merely for his own enjoyment. It was well-publicized that the completed manuscript was discovered after the author’s death. We’ll never know what he intended to do with it. Perhaps he never intended to publish it at all. While this may sound ludicrous to non-writers, I suspect this is the case. Many prolific authors have completed manuscripts tucked away that they wrote just for the pleasure of writing, and “Pirate Latitudes” seems to be one of those. Perhaps it was something he picked away at while trying to stave off writer’s block for something else he was working on. Even if this novel was never intended to see the light of day, I am glad his family decided to go ahead and let us have a look at it.

    “Pirate Latitudes” delivers everything you’d ever want from a pirate story, and also gives a fairly accurate historical portrayal of 17th century pirates, particularly the violent lives they lead. This book will likely not receive any awards, nor will it impress many literary critics, but it is not attempting to do so. It is well-worth reading if you enjoy fast-paced action adventure, particularly of the cutlass-wielding, piratey variety.

  6. W. V. Buckley
    November 19th, 2010 at 00:42 | #6

    Rating

    Michael Crichton novels have long been a guilty pleasure of mine. A few were clunkers while others were gems of pure escapism. Character was never exactly Crichton’s strong point, but then no one picks up a Crichton novel to find out what his characters think of the human condition. What Crichton had as an author was an uncanny knack to tap into what scared us. Worried about some weird illness being brought back from outer space? How about the perils of nanotechnology? Or global warming? Pondered the implications of bringing dinosaurs back? Crichton managed to get there first.

    Now, a year after Crichton’s death, Pirate Latitudes is released. Supposedly the complete manuscript has been sitting around on Crichton’s computer since 2006. As I read the book my mind kept pondering why, if the book was done, Crichton hadn’t sent it to his publisher. Perhaps he was afraid it would be compared to the Pirates of the Carribean movies. Or maybe Crichton hoped to return to the manuscript some day and tone down some of the “multi-culti” political correctness of Capt. Hunter’s pirate crew. (Let’s see … Crichton managed to include a big black man, an explosives expert known as “the Jew,” even a crossdressing woman. At least he felt safe to ridicult the French!)

    For a “complete manuscript,” it sure doesn’t feel very complete. There are a number of places scattered through the book where I can almost see Crichton’s notes in the margins: “Needs more research,” “Having second thoughts about this character,” or “Too predictable plot device.” In places Pirate Latitudes was a typical Crichton novel. There’s nothing wrong with being a fast-paced, escapist, adventure story. But there were other places where it seemed Crichton had left only the barest bones of a story to be fleshed out later. As it is, Pirate Latitudes is an OK reading experience. But most of us have come to expect more than just OK from Crichton.

    In its present form Pirate Latitudes is more like a beginning author’s first book. It’s just a shame that it’s Crichton’s last book.

  7. Christian J. Ingebretsen
    November 21st, 2010 at 17:43 | #7

    Rating

    I’m guessing that Michael Crichton never knew what a gift “Pirates Latitude” would be. We’ve all enjoyed his gifts before. Personally, I admired “Great Train Robbery” and “Eaters of the Dead” for historical fictions with great accuracy; “Sphere” and “Terminal Man” for their terrifying glimpses into the human mind; “Jurassic Park” for a better understanding of the genetic age we are entering; “State of Fear” for calling the media, junk science and popular causes out on the carpet.

    I’ve seen others criticize this book for not having that typical “Crichton feel”, and on some levels, I would agree. Had Crichton only written books like “Pirates Latitude” he would never have become one of the world’s most popular writers. People fell in love with Crichton for his attention to detail, for his insistence that facts and

    truth be presented as nothing other than what they are. Had cancer not robbed him of a chance to see “Pirates Latitude” published, I believe Crichton would have done what he does best. He would have added that detail, thus robbing us of this final gift. This bare-bones manuscript is a testimony to something I took for granted: details, facts, figures, and ethics aside, Crichton was an extraordinary writer! It’s a great story: funny, sometimes light, sometimes heavy, fast-paced and brash in one paragraph, quiet and elegant in the next. And unless by some fate there is another desk with a manuscript to be discovered, it is the last work of his I will read anew. I will miss

    him.

    Sorry for turning this into a Eulogy of sorts…but since I’ve already crossed that line, I think I’ll close with a quote from “The Lost World”: “You smell the salt in the air? You feel the sunlight on your skin? You see all of us together? That’s real. Life is wonderful. It’s a gift to be alive, to see the sun and breathe the air. And there isn’t really anything else.” Rest well, Mr. Crichton. You’ve earned it.

  8. H. Karaca Kestelli
    November 23rd, 2010 at 09:57 | #8

    Rating

    I read “Pirate Latitudes” in just few days. I did realize that Crichton is a master story teller. He doesn’t focus on single arena like some others. So he is not pure Medical Examiner, nor MD, nor lawyer, nor symbolist writer. He writes good stories: just take a look at his performance. He did write about dinosaurs, Medieval times, global warming, science fiction, train robbery, etc.

    I do agree with some other critics that characters are not too deep. Yes, it still doesn’t change the fact that the book makes you read itself.

    I wish I could look forward to other books from him.

  9. Nicole Del Sesto
    November 24th, 2010 at 08:24 | #9

    Rating

    It’s impossible to know whether Crichton intended this book to be published, or if he wrote it for fun. Considering it was written in 2006, and discovered on his hard drive after his death, it feels like maybe he wasn’t rushing it off to his agent for publication.

    It’s not Crichton in peak form, that’s for sure.

    While the book is entertaining enough, it’s missing what I love most about Crichton … the research, the education, the intense build of excitement. It’s a pirate story, and not a particularly original one … It’s got your storms, your cannibals, your sea monsters, and general pirate treachery. The first half of the book I felt it was unforgivable that they decided to publish this. But the second half was fun enough that I can see it, and of course Spielberg is already working on the movie.

    I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I think, had Crichton been ready for publication it would have been better. Less flawed. But it was enjoyable enough, very fast paced and Amazon has a great deal on the hardcover so you almost can’t go wrong.

  10. odessa Stillings
    November 24th, 2010 at 12:12 | #10

    Rating

    This book comes with a mixed review. The reason I say that is because Pirate Latitudes was an unpublished work by Mr. Crichton and was only published after his death. So it is very difficult to know how much of the story was left unfinished—so we’ll go with what we have. The book centers around a privateer named Charles Hunter who plans an attack on a Spanish Island controlled by King Philip in the Jamaican harbor of Matanceros. The book starts slow, but it doesn’t take long for Mr. Crichton to completely reel in the reader–and once hooked it is impossible to put down. But there does seem to be something missing. It lacks the levels of suspense we have grown accustomed to from Michael Crichton, and maybe there was a reason he never submitted it for publication. It reads more like a movie script than a classic Crichton novel. The pirate talk is abundant and the tale action-packed with plenty of plundering, snakes, poison darts, inclement weather, busty maidens, corrupt officials, and backstabbing. All this with a twist most won’t see coming makes Pirate Latitudes a much better film than it will a novel. Which leaves me to wonder what this book could have been if Mr. Crichton actually finished it. I love Mr. Crichton’s works, but if it is suspense and bewilderment you’re looking for I’d recommend sticking with the classics like Mary Stewart’s “The Crystal Cave” or even some of Crichton’s earlier works.

  11. S. L. Potter
    November 24th, 2010 at 23:25 | #11

    Rating

    Given all that I expect of Michael Crichton’s writing, I wasn’t surprised to learn that this novel was “a completed manuscript found among his papers”. I believe it was the publisher who considered it “complete”. The story was complete and cohesive in that step A led to step B led to step C, etc. However, the novel read like a fleshed-out outline. Descriptions were sparse for no apparent reason, action was stilted and bare, some points in the story seemed more completely envisioned than others.

    Overall, the impression I got was of a novel that was meant to be completed. There is a fun-filled romp here with some potentially interesting characters and action. The setting feels fresh and I am appreciative of the research that Crichton has done for the novel. However, Mr. Crichton’s unfortunate passing will leave this manuscript incomplete as a well-written novel. Fans of Michael Crichton may enjoy this book for its completeness to his body of work, but it does not stand among his best writing.

  12. Bleny the Luke
    November 26th, 2010 at 18:55 | #12

    Rating

    I have always enjoyed Crichton’s work. But not this one. Perhaps he never intended it to be published, as the apparent carelessness of research makes it obvious it was not ready for publication.

    Here’s a only small sampling of glaring errors throughout the book:

    A ship of the line with more than one mainsail?

    Also, ships-of-the-line never patrolled singly; considered wasteful of resources by every navy of the period.

    A merchant frigate? (Frigates always were, and still are, warships).

    In fact, Crichton repeatedly fails to see the difference between a ship and a boat!

    And then there’s that 130-foot ship with 5 gundecks! (Give me a break).

    Galleons of this period used a staff to steer ship, not a tiller; an entirely different steering system.

    White flag to surrender? What nonsense is this? (What happened to striking colors?)

    Spyglass (telescope) for two eyes?

    And worst of all, use of halyards to luff and/or to tack ship? Braces (now called sheets) served that purpose. Halyards are for making and striking sail, not for maneuvering or sail trim.

    The book is absolutely riddled with major errors such as the above, and detracts from the time and place of the story enough to put off any astute reader. Very disappointing.

    Being maritime (historical) fiction, one should expect nautical facts to be correct. If you want to read a well researched pirate yarn, you’ll do much better with “Firehead’s Malice” by Al Karasa.

  13. G. Gordon
    November 26th, 2010 at 20:35 | #13

    Rating

    This book was not ready for publication. Crichton was obviously not finished with it, and that is evident throughout the book. The characters are two dimensional caricatures; the plot is basic and reads like a jumble of all the pirate episodes that could be lumped together. The elements of a good book are here, but it is like reading a rough draft.

  14. Power Trader
    November 30th, 2010 at 10:27 | #14

    Rating

    Everyone has already stated that this book is not like Crichton’s usual techy novels. But beyond that I thought it was an interesting story of a Pirate expedition told with the typical hint of non fiction that Crichton is famous for with all the research he puts into his novels.

    The book read really fast and has me back on Amazon looking for another good pirate tale to send to my kindle!

  15. R. Wood
    November 30th, 2010 at 19:48 | #15

    Rating

    I am a HUGE Michael Crichton fan. I was saddened to hear of his passing and was hoping that this book would be as entertaining as his others. While it was an ok read, I was however disappointed. It seem rushed, and just didn’t really go anywhere. I’m thinking that the reason he never did anything with this book was because the movie “Pirate of the Caribbean” came out and he knew he didn’t have a chance.

Comments are closed.