Wednesday, February 10, 2010

#10 Pirate Latitudes

At 312 pages it took me about 4 hours to read Michael Crichtons Pirate Latitudes. Does that mean it was good? Not so much. Does that mean it was a fast pace? No, not really. So why did I personally finish it so fast? It’s about fucking pirates! Pirates! Who the hell doesn’t like pirates? Virgin Nuns, Rich People, the guy who has the bigger ship, Virgins in general, the Spanish, Gay Priests…ok, maybe not the Gay Priests. Anyway, pirates are fucking bad ass. The plot of this book? A group of mostly English pirates go on an expedition to take down an unbeatable island fortress to get a shit ton of money. That’s pretty much it. Well, the main plot anyway. It is the pirates themselves, plus everything that happens to them along the way that makes the story great…except for that one part.

In a scene reminiscent of The 13th Warrior…or The Dirty Dozen the main pirate, Captain Charles Hunter, goes around finding the badass pirates to go along with him on a suicide mission. Naturally, because it is a suicide mission and there is a promise of a lot of gold, the pirates happily agree. Allow me to introduce to you those pirates. Including why one or two are my favorite. First of all there is Captain Hunter. We will put him in the place of the handsome leader, who is also ruthless, who all the women want to pull their skirts up for, and who I believe is also the only one born of the New World. If I were to compare him to someone I would go with Han Solo (the Han Solo that we all know shot first), combined with Casanova (an actor like Thomas Jane all done up like a pirate). Don Diego is the resident boom boom guy, complete with missing fingers and a crazy eye (I pictured Steve Buscemi, only Jewish). Mr. Enders is the doctor dude combined with the navigator. Kill two birds with one stone as they say. His personality through the course of the book actually kind of reminds me of Bones from Star Trek. Next you have one of my favorites, Lazue, the womanizing, debonair, cutthroat, spotter…woman. Yep, this French damsel likes to distract her victims by walking around topless and slitting their throats. Who doesn’t love a woman like that? Seriously? If she was Date #3 on some game show I would totally pick her, even though she walks around looking like a man (Milla Jovovich from The Messenger). Who’s next? The Moor, Bassa. He is the required quiet type (what with having no tongue) that is also the muscle of the operation. I’m surprised he didn’t climb a cliff with people on his back like Andre the Giant did in The Princess Bride. Anyway, in a way he is also the mercenary for Hunter. Hunter says “kill” and Bassa listens (Michael Clarke Duncan). Sanson is the brutal killer, the bloodthirsty, the Frenchman with no moral compass. The one who takes on an entire ship by himself and is only worried about money, nothing else. He also has a high pitched voice and at one point may have been a priest. I however, never quite caught on to the high pitched voice thing. Crichton says he has one and just as quickly I hear him more with a gruff manly voice. How can a brutal killer have a high voice? That would be like comparing Sanson to Mike Tyson (I would say Samuel Le Bihan). Unfortunately Sanson amd Lazue were my favorite. Go figure right? I would prefer the French over the English.

Of course you have the rest of the cast of characters thrown in. The corrupt official. The Governor of Port Royal (I totally pictured Michael Gambon), his niece that wants Hunter. The new Assistant Governor, who wants to take down the pirates but whose wife only wants…Hunter. You also have the corrupt military leader, the Spanish dude who only wants English blood, the Spanish dudes French buddy who only wants English blood, whores, dude that still lives after having a slit throat called Whisperer (think of the guy from Hoodlum), merchants who just want more money, the list goes on and on. In fact, in a lot of ways, it reminded me of Pirates of the Carribean. Only without the comedic effect. I’m trying to remember if anyone was actually particularly funny. Nope…they would all kick someone in the gut and put a bullet in their head without remorse. Ohhhh, and when he goes after the people that fuck him over. Think Braveheart…it is fantastic. There is only one swordfight though…one…the rest of it is bullets to the brain and slit throats.

The story itself was done fairly well. Typical to Crichton he throws in some medical shit you normally wouldn’t have known about. For example I really didn’t need to know that a hair restorer was made with crushed up earthworms. He goes with some liberties, like when the boom boom guy creates a crazy grenade. His battles at sea are done fairly well…although the build up to it made the final battle kind of anti-climactic. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World it is not. In fact, for the most part, it is the pirates trying to outrun their attackers and hide in shallow water. The attack on the island was weird…the whole time I was reading that part I kept going, “I’ve seen this before” and I don’t know why. I looked it up
online to see if the island was real, if it was really breeched that way. Kind of like if the history channel had done something about it. Couldn’t find anything in about five minutes so I gave up. Then again it could have actually been something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I wouldn’t know, I watched them all once and pretty much didn’t pay attention. The only thing during the story line that I couldn’t really get into was the kraken. I mean really? You have all this shit that could possibly make sense, things that could be rather historically accurate, and out of nowhere you toss in a fucking sea monster? Really? Not only that but one that glows green at night? I’m pretty sure they didn’t have radioactive squid back in 1665. I would bitch at him…but he’s dead. Crichton that is.

Anyway, you want a quick read? Want some cheap entertainment? Wanna see some pirates brutally kill some fuckers (like letting rats feast on a dude’s face)? Go ahead and pick the book up. My advice? I would say it is a road trip or airplane book. Something you can pick up, read, and toss in the pile to forget. I doubt it will stick with you, but it will keep you engaged. Oh right, the reason why I included actors to play the characters up there? You know it is going to get turned into a movie at some point. It’s a fucking Michael Crichton book. I’m fairly certain 90% of his books are films.

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