Friday, September 26, 2014

Seeking Pirate Treasure in "Dark Tides Rising"

Let's take a trip back through history.  Through the early years of America's eastern shores.  Along the southern route to where pirates once congregated.

That's right - I said pirates!

In Andrew Clawson's exciting and engaging novel Dark Tides Rising we follow along until the proverbial 'X' marks the spot.  As far as movies go, it's National Treasure meets Indiana Jones with a healthy dose of Pirates of the Caribbean thrown in for a heaping helping of fun.

Book Blurb:
In Philadelphia, Penn historian Erika Carr studies a Revolutionary era map that had been lost for centuries. Scrawled across its surface is a cryptic poem, the contents of which Erika suspects may point to a prize that has fascinated mankind for ages.

Buried treasure.

When a mysterious benefactor appears and offers her a fortune in exchange for the map, Erika cannot imagine what her refusal will unleash.

With Erika at his side, investment banker Parker Chase soon finds himself racing for his life as they unravel the mystery of the map and the treasure it protects, deciphering clues charted by some of history's most infamous pirates.

Every clue brings them closer to the truth masked within the enigmatic poem, though they have no idea what darkness awaits. The treacherous course takes them from the remote beaches of North Carolina to the sparkling waters of the Caribbean, and if they can stay alive, Parker and Erika can uncover a treasure that will rewrite history.

My Review:
I found Dark Tides Rising to be a rollicking adventure of searching for buried treasure amid the historical record.  As a fan of history, I always enjoy a novel that seamlessly combines the reality of the past within the realm of fiction.  And of course, who doesn't like a good ol' treasure hunt?  At times I felt as if I was watching my son as he played the game Assassin's Creed: Black Flag.

Erika Carr is a professor of history and an expert on one of our illustrious Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton.  After exploring a recently discovered storage cache found at Hamilton Grange National Memorial, Erika uncovers a mysterious map.  After careful study, she presents her findings in a lecture to a sold-out audience.  Of course, it didn't hurt to allude to Hamilton's Caribbean connections and throw in a pirate story or two for good measure to entice said audience's attendance.  But what Erika didn't count on was the anticipation of buried treasure attracting those with ulterior motives.

Victor Burl claims heritage to the progeny of pirates Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.  As an extremely rich man, Victor is used to having whatever he wants - and using any means necessary to get his way.  The map Dr. Carr claims was found in Hamilton's possession was stolen from his ancestors, and when he seeks to bribe his way into Dr. Carr's good graces - and she refuses to allow him access to the map - he realizes there is only one way to reclaim his property.

After a break-in following her lecture, Erika, along with her wealthy boyfriend Parker Chase, must figure out the clues in the map and where the riddles lead before a precious part of history is lost.  With Parker's wealth, they jet set across the East Coast of America and to the Caribbean to track down the association between those most famous pirates - Blackbeard and Calico Jack.

Again, I'm a big history nut and found Erika's lecture quite interesting.  Sometimes with a great wealth of information, it's easy to get into the habit of what is known as info dumping.  However, the presentation of much of the information in the beginning in the form of a lecture made this potential telling smooth and easy without resorting to overload.  Additional historical elements were presented within conversation between Erika and Parker, broken up into nicely manageable pieces as they searched for clues.  This skirted the ever-too-easy element some authors use of telling and incorporated it into the story elements as they happened to show and lead the reader along the journey.  I really appreciated this.

Point-of-view shifts were properly delineated by scene and chapter breaks, allowing me, the reader, to settle deeply into the POV character's head, see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt.  Thumbs up!  Pacing moved steadily along and made me want to keep reading, and even within the history lessons it never felt as if it dragged or bogged down.  Editing was fairly clean as well, so all in all the story was a well-rounded read structurally.  A bit of artistic license was taken with one or two elements within the historical account, but nothing glaring, just a consideration of what could have happened if two elements lined up.  That's all I'll say so I don't give anything away.

The only thing I questioned was a little something that was allowed at the end when it came to disposition of certain assets.  As a historian, I felt Erika should've at least questioned it.  Yes, I know I'm being vague, but I don't want to give anything away.  I also had to laugh when I came across Parker's last name.  It was too close to the character of Abigail Chase from the National Treasure movies.  I'd have also appreciated a little more characterization of Erika and Parker, though since this is the third book in the series, more fleshing-out of these characters has likely already occurred.

Did I like the story?  Absolutely.  Did I enjoy the history lesson along the way?  You betcha!  Heck, my son knew the answer to every little question I asked because of his vast knowledge of the brief pirate era.  Was I pleased with the novel's structure. Certainly.  It's nice to just read a novel without all of the frustration.  Did I have a problem with the artistic license taken?  Not a bit.  Would I read the prequels?  That's a big yes.  And did I love the cover?  That's a heck-to-the-yeah!  For all of the above, I give Dark Tides Rising a rare five stars.

Purchase a copy at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Author Bio:
Andrew Clawson is the author of several books, including A Patriot's Betrayal, The Crowns Vengeance, and
Dark Tides Rising.

He lives in Pennsylvania, where he enjoys reading, writing as much as possible, and spending time with his rescued black cat, who brings him good luck and the occasional dead bug.

You can learn more about Andrew and his novels at

No comments:

Post a Comment