I was so desperate to read The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists, that when my reserved copy at arrived at the library I did what I never do – I read two books at once. I know, I know, I understand your shock and your disapproval. I’ll do better in future. In my defence though, I’m currently reading Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore and it’s long. Plus it’s mostly dialogue based so it’s slightly slow going at places… more to the point, I really wanted to read this one! It’s short and light, so it didn’t detract from that much Bitterblue time… *coughs* Anyway, it was worth every second, because I LOVED this book!
are growing bored with a life of winking at pretty native ladies and
trying to stick enough jellyfish together to make a bouncy castle, the
Pirate Captain decides it’s high time to spearhead an adventure.
searching for some major pirate booty, he mistakenly attacks the young
Charles Darwin’s Beagle and then leads his ragtag crew from the exotic
Galapagos Islands to the fog-filled streets of Victorian London. There
they encounter grisly murder, vanishing ladies, radioactive elephants,
and the Holy Ghost himself. And that’s not even the half of it.
I first saw this book in the Borders store years and years ago (long before any mention of the movie, thank you very much!) and I really wish it hadn’t taken me this long to get round to reading it. The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists is the start of a five book-long series, starting with this one and ending with the newly released …with the Romantics (because I REFUSE to type it out every time). It’s a tiny, light-hearted book that more than brightened up my gloomy day with its typically British (read: ‘awful’) weather.
So, the basic premise has the Pirate Captain and his crew going on adventures, shockingly. In this one, they are led to believe by their arch nemesis, Black Bellamy, that there’s a ship from the Bank of England carrying tons of gold across the Ocean and they set off in search for it. Except perhaps Black Bellamy is not quite as reformed as they have been told, because the ship in question turns out to be the HMS on their second voyage to the Galapagos Islands!
It’s got a very simple tone – verging on clunky at times, but never quite crossing over the border. It never seemed to take itself seriously – it’s just a good, funny story told for a laugh. Very few people actually have names and there’s hardly a great deal of time invested in character development, but it just adds to the whimsical nature of …with Scientists.
‘Living at sea tended to leave you
with ratty, matted hair, but the Pirate Captain somehow kept his beard
silky and in good condition, and though nobody knew his secret, they all
respected him for it. They also respected him because it was said he
was wedded to the sea. A lot of pirates claimed they were wedded to the
sea, but usually this was an excuse because they couldn’t get a
girlfriend or they were a gay pirate, but in the Pirate Captain’s case
none of his crew doubted he was actually wedded to the sea for a
It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but there are a few paragraphs that made me smile. Gideon Defoe (I’ve looked and looked, and it really does seem to be his real name) has a knack for using a sardonic, conversational tone that reminds me a little of a simpler Terry Pratchett, which can only be a good thing. I love how he brings in historical characters like Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy, who I didn’t know much about but was apparently the Captain of the HMS Beagle, and his work in the meteorology field is responsible for the accuracy of weather predictions today.
The author even uses footnotes in a similar way to Terry Pratchett, although to enlighten us with factual asides, not to amuse. For example, apparently the HMS Beagle was only ninety feet long and notoriously unseaworthy – in his notes Darwin described the voyage as ‘one continual puke.’ I’ve wandered off to check the accuracy of a few of these facts so I don’t look like a complete moron believing made-up things meant only to entertain, but no, they’re true. They aren’t frequent enough to really be annoying but they do add a nice happy bonus to the book 🙂
I got my copy from Sheffield Library, but I have every intention of purchasing this book and the next four in the series the second I get paid next week. I need my own copy to nuzzle and smile at lovingly! It’s just so, so good!