I never thought that I would enjoy a pirate book. And I was never convinced that a pirate book, though written by a Christian author, could have an obvious Christian message. Isle of Swords, by Wayne Thomas Batson, has proved me wrong.
Out on the rolling seas we find the crew of the William Wallace and their captain, Declan Ross. They have faced many challenges just to “stay afloat.” Anne, the fiery daughter of Captain Ross, has always longed to be a member of the crew. Her father, however, is against the idea and would do anything to keep her away from the piracy business forever. He also has many regrets concerning the death of his wife, who died while they were gone at sea.
While the crew was gathering supplies and repairing the ship in one of the islands, Anne wandered off. On the shore of the island she found a young lad who was badly wounded and lying unconscious. It turns out that this boy had lost all memory of who he was or where he had come from. A pouch that was found on the shore with him contained his only clues: A sparkling green gem, a lock of red hair, and a tarnished silver cross. He also had uncanny talents when it came to doing the duties of a pirate. The crew heartily accepted him and gave him the name of Cat. As the story progresses, Cat hears voices and has flashbacks of his past, which serve as clues through the tangled web of unknowns. Anne, though jealous of his natural skills and acceptance by the crew, seeks to help him through the psychological struggle.
The main enemy of the William Wallace is the infamous Bartholomew Thorne, the captain of the largest and most dastardly crew in the piracy business. Known for his relentless cruelty toward his prisoners (not to mention toward his crew,) he is always looking to destroy anyone in his way. All of the pirates also fear the British navy, as well as any of the other national navy that would seek to turn the pirates into the law and the government. All in all, the pirates do seem to maintain some sense of respect for the law, and in the end they find a way to work together to defeat evil.
The one source of hope and safety the pirates have is very unlikely – the monks of the island of St. Celestine. These monks provide a haven for the pirates, hoping to in turn convert them. One of these pirates – Padres Dominguez – holds the only key to the lost Treasure of Constantine, which is located on the uncharted Isle of Swords. He convinces Ross to sail to find this treasure, and Ross is eager to use the treasure to free him and his crew from the bonds of piracy, though the stakes are high and the journey could be fatal. This book travels through their journey to the Isle of Swords, the lessons they learn along the way, and the challenges that face them. I don’t want to give too much away as far as the summary of the plot and characters. The plot is so intricately woven together, so I suggest that you read it for yourself instead of having me spoil it for you.
I want to first point out that this is not necessarily an allegory, though there are many themes of honor, courage, redemption, and trust that can be learned through the plot. I was very pleased that the characters of this book were convicted in a personal and unmistakable way for their need of the salvation that Christ offers. There is one particular part where Cat, Anne, and Declan see the parallel of Christ and the nails of the cross saving them. Padre Dominguez also talks to them about their need for a Savior throughout the story, and I was thrilled that this was a part of the obvious message of the book.
Piracy is generally not looked upon as an honorable thing. Even in this book, many of the pirates are only in the business as a last option. They are seeking a way out. However, in all that they do, Ross requires a policy of honor and respect for himself and his crew. This is very well looked upon throughout the whole book and promotes the same sense of courage, honesty, and honor. There are a few times where they are counted worthy because of their pure motives and good intentions, but I would not say that this is referring to salvation.
I honestly have no idea why I was hesitant to read this book. The characters, setting, plot – all of it – are wonderfully put together. The plot almost literally twists every chapter! It was a very hard book to put down. I found it easy to read as well as captivating. There are some bloody and fatal scenes in the book, but not overly so. I will soon start to read Batson’s second pirate book, and hopefully many more of his books. Wayne Thomas Batson has become one of my favorite authors, and I highly recommend this book as well as his others.
Published on 23 April, 2011. Last updated on