Isle of Swords is a 2007 Cybils MG Fiction Nominee
ISLE OF SWORDS is a wonderful pirate adventure story! However, in writing this review I’m unable to get my mind off of a couple of small details, so I’ll mention those before I continue. 1) There is a woman named “Dolphin” in this story. It’s not an attempt at giving her a Native American name. She sounds European, from her description. And her name, for no apparent reason, is Dolphin. This is ridiculous. It sounds like a seven year old girl named her. Seven year old girls, from my memory of being seven, think all sorts of ridiculous things are good names. I had a doll named “Sunshine.” Seven year old girls are also perhaps not the best people to consult when writing novels. Luckily, Dolphin is not a major character, and as such not mentioned much. 2) Baston seems to be rather enamored of “crimson hair.” I can think of four women (which is the majority of women mentioned in the story) described as having crimson hair, and one of them is a main character (the only female main character). I wish he’d been more creative in describing the appearances of his characters.
Anne is a sixteen-year-old girl who’s lived most of her life at sea, on her father’s pirate ship. She feels she was born to become a pirate herself, but her father, Captain Declan Ross, is unwilling to let her sign the Articles; he’s a reluctant pirate. Cat is a young man who woke up on an island frequented by one of the most ruthless pirates around, beaten to near death. He was found and rescued by Anne, but he has no memory and only a few mysterious clues to who he is. These two and the rest of the crew of the Wallace, after being caught in Bartholomew Thorne’s territory, killing his brother, and going after a treasure he’d do anything to get his hands on, are definitely in danger, and beating Thorne (and the King’s Navy) is going to be tricky.
Barring my small quibbles, this really is a wonderful book. Baston is quite the storyteller! He weaves a suspenseful, engaging tale of pirates, ancient treasures, and religious orders who are more than they seem (the religious bit actually reminded me a little of the Da Vinci Code). The characters and style and all that are good, but really this is more about the storytelling, and it’s a brilliant story! Perfect for anyone who loves books about pirates (which would be me) and young boys who perhaps aren’t the biggest fans of reading. I’ve passed it on to my eleven-year-old and fourteen-year-old brothers, in fact, and neither of them reads much, but they’re excited to read ISLE OF SWORDS.