Drawing Anglo-Saxon and Viking Treasure: Guest Post by Gilli Allan

To tie in with the release of the gorgeous new cover for Buried Treasure, I'm delighted to hand the blog over to author Gilli Allan: ...

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Review: Pirates - Truth and Tales - by Helen Hollick

Let me start this review with a confession. I've not ever been a huge fan of pirates. I watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean film and couldn't even follow the plot. So I wasn't sure how I'd react to this book. 

I needn't have worried. For a start, the book sets the reader very straight about the difference between what we think we know about pirates, and the historical truth.

Ms Hollick has written a series of novels about pirates, or, more correctly, about a particular pirate: Jesemiah Acorne. No one could, or should, write historical novels without doing thorough research, and it's clear that the author has done her homework.

This book gives a detailed, informative and interesting history of piracy. Sometimes of piracy in general, and sometimes giving short biographies of some of the more famous names - Calico Jack, Mary Read, Anne Bonny - and some less well-knowns - Jan Baert, William Fly.

But this book is not just a good, solid, well-researched book about the history of pirates. It is also a book which you can dip in and out of, including as it does excerpts from novels, recipes - for Damson Rum, yum! - sea shanties, a glossary of pirate 'speak', of terminology, and lists of pirates' ships and their colours.

Packed full of interesting information, the book gives the reader plenty of  'Well, I didn't know that!' moments. I rather regret that I was on my own when I was reading it, because there were many times when I wanted to say to someone, 'Did you know the origin of the phrase...' 

There were many times when I also chuckled aloud. Not just at the information, but at the light delivery. Ms Hollick is such an enthusiastic writer, and the book's tone is warm, friendly, but never less than informative.

Every aspect of this life is explored - the depiction of pirates in film, television and novels, what 'gaol' meant, the difference between sailors and tars, how they navigated across the seas. We even learn why pirates all seem to be portrayed as speaking in the traditional 'arrr' way. It's all fascinating stuff.

Ms Hollick has pulled off a difficult feat, giving us solid history and an accessible and highly entertaining read. So, although I began thinking I wasn't a fan of pirates, I can't recommend this book highly enough. It even gives a history of rum. Cheers!

Helen recently took off on a voyage of her own, not across the high seas, but across the blogosphere. She weighed anchor on this blog on August 3rd, where she talked about the Vikings. You can read that post HERE where you'll also find links to all the other ports of call on her voyage.

And you can buy Pirates, and all of Helen's novels at http://viewauthor.at/HelenHollick


  1. I cannot help but agree whole-heartedly with you, Annie. Its a terrific book that won't get you bogged down with dates and political 'movements', keeps you interested throughout with the tid bits of information you thought you knew but didn't. A great endorsement....

    1. Thanks Richard - it was such fun to read!

    2. Thank you Richard - I confess, I had great fun writing the book! And thank you Annie, I'm not sure whether to grin or blush. Both maybe? Arrr!

    3. The pleasure is all mine - I thoroughly enjoyed the book AND all the informative blog posts of the tour :-)

  2. Readers should know that it doesn't matter whether they read this "Pirate-Treatise" before, after or in-between Helen Hollick's Sea Witch series; they should just read and enjoy it.
    This is a solid and well-deserved review, Annie. As a writer yourself, you know how much time and effort spent on another's book and review is always appreciated.

    1. Thank you Inge your enthusiasm is so much appreciated!