A Review – Blaggard’s Moon (Day 2)

There are moments in our lives that change everything.

Forks in the road. Accidents. Love at first sight.


Yup, that one changes everything. Forever.

A lot of the time we don’t see those moments coming. Especially the last one. But Smith Delaney, the marooned pirate whose post-sitting ruminations open Blaggard’s Moon, can see Death coming, wrinkled and white-eyed and iron-clawed, thanks to the horrific stories told him by tribal chiefs the night before. Delaney has been left on a post in the middle of a pond full of piranha, punishment for following his captain’s orders literally when they were meant to be taken figuratively. (“Take care of the girl,” Belisar said. So Delaney did.) When the new moon rises, mermonkeys will crawl up the post and tear out his bones.

Delaney has a few hours left with no hope of escape, and though that isn’t a long time in the overall scheme of life, it turns out to be plenty of time to think. So it is that readers are transported back through a twisting tale of which Delaney’s life is only a thread, through the story of “the great battle between the pirates of the world and the band of merciless men who would purge us from the seas and make the name Hell’s Gatemen a source of terror to us all.” More than that, we are transported through the story of people whose lives converged in moments of choice, of life, of death, of sin and righteousness.

Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka is complex, masterfully written, and ceaselessly entertaining — a Christian pirate fantasy novel that is light on fantasy, heavy on pirates, and more intrinsically than overtly Christian. Though Smith Delaney opens the story and is its most compelling voice, most of the plot centers around the tragedies and triumphs of Damrick Fellows and Jenta Stillmithers, two young people who face up to the evils of their times although they are in no way promised happy endings for doing so. Polivka writes with a sharp sense of humour, which at the same time brightens and deepens the book’s underlying sadness.

For this is a sad story. Entertaining, yes. Swashbuckling, certainly. Deep and memorable — those too. Yet beneath all of that is a lament for a world gone wrong, for a world where good people can suffer while evil men prosper. It’s the lament of Ecclesiastes and Job and some of the Psalms, and like them it asks us to find hope in the goodness of God while never asking us to pretend that hope negates the sadness.

Serious themes, handled well. For Polivka can write. He handles the book’s complex structure — it is the story of a man telling the story of a man telling a story and finally of that story itself — with extraordinary finesse. The pirates are as real as story characters can be, especially Delaney, and though I found Jenta and Damrick a little distant, their distance suited their roles as more mythic characters. The book is drenched with the kind of atmosphere I’ve loved since I read Treasure Island as a kid. And its spiritual claims are true. I found Delaney’s moment of epiphany forced, but that was only one moment in a book that typically treats hard questions with an almost biblical attitude, offering answers but never downplaying the questions.

Tomorrow, I’ll write more about the relevance of pirates to my life — perhaps to yours, too.



, ,




10 responses to “A Review – Blaggard’s Moon (Day 2)”

  1. […] At the moment I’m trying to figure out how to set up a page for the Seventh World books. (I am doing this instead of working on The Advent because I’m still finding that just dashed difficult.) I’ve been meaning to do it for a while, and just now I was inspired to get to work on it because I found a page for one of the best Christian fantasy writers I’ve had the privilege of discovering recently. (George Bryan Polivka. Read my review of his Blaggard’s Moon here.) […]

  2. […] to another great CSFF Blog Tour, it’s been a fascinating week around this blog. As I reviewed Blaggard’s Moon , I found myself faced with many things I could have said. I thought about writing on heroes […]

  3. […] this topic, Rachel Starr Thompson says she thinks the distance gives Damrick and Jenta a mythic […]

  4. Rachel Avatar

    Thanks, Phyllis! I enjoyed writing it :).

  5. […] is important because it carries a timeless message. Rachel Starr Thomson perhaps said it best in her review: Yet beneath all of that [the entertaining qualitier] is a lament for a world gone wrong, for a […]

  6. […] on the original list ?? Steve Rice Crista Richey ?? Chawna Schroeder ? James Somers ?? Rachel Starr Thomson ? Steve Trower Speculative Faith Jason Waguespack ??? Fred Warren […]

  7. Phyllis Wheeler Avatar

    Rachel, this is really really well written!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *