In this opening novel of the Trophy Chase Trilogy, George Bryan Polivka introduces the readers to the lands of Nearing Vast and more importantly, to The Vast Sea where most of the action takes place. Packer Throme has come home to his little fishing village of Hangman’s Cliffs a swordsman rather than the preacher he had set out to become. And instead of proceeding to marry Panna Seline, the fiancée he’d left behind, he kisses her goodbye one more time and stows aboard the pirate ship Trophy Chase, bound on a great adventure. He’s heard rumor that the captain, Scat Wilkins, is in search of the legendary firefish, and Packer has deduced from his dead father’s notes where in The Vast Sea the firefish can be found. He’s hoping to make a difference to the economy of Hangman’s Cliffs when his assumptions prove to be real and be hailed a hero instead of a coward.
First Packer has to convince the captain that he is worth more alive than dead, making some enemies in the process. And when they find the firefish, things do not go as planned.
Pros: I found The Legend of the Firefish to entertain and inform me a lot on large sailing vessels. Here’s one fun sample from page 243. Packer has just been sent up to the crow’s nest to see what he can see:
The one nod to caution, a short safety rope that ringed the masthead and was then hooked to the lookout’s belt, secured Packer now. The deck a hundred feet below was pitched at thirty-five degrees, which meant the crow’s nest was also pitched at thirty-five degrees–and hanging nearly sixty feet out over the water. The sensation was mind-skewing. With the moonlit, whitecapped waves actually closer to him than the lamp-lit deck, Packer felt cut off from the reality of the Chase and her crew. He clung to his perch under the ruffle and snap of the skull and bones as though outcast, as though his first duty were to the sea and the wind, and whatever demands they might make.
Pirate novels, movies–everything–are really in right now, so George Bryan Polivka‘s novel meets this hunger straight on.
Harvest House Publishers went beyond the call of ordinary to give The Legend of the Firefish a special look. Not only is the cover very fitting for a pirate novel, but the spine is very eye-catching. Each interior page is decorated with little helms and curlicues, and each chapter heading has a black and white rendition of the ship shown on the cover. It has a charming old world feel to it. And speaking of the publisher, they are sponsoring a Talk Like a Pirate Contest–Reach out to a Pirate and Win!
Cons: I had a hard time getting into the novel, to be honest. The biggest issue for me was point of view. We had everybody’s point of view, right down to the firefish. Whoever happened to be in a scene, we knew what they were thinking. Back and forth like a ping-pong ball or maybe a soccer match, because there were more than two players in many of them.
I find omniscient point of view not only disorienting but distancing. I could tell that the story belonged to Packer, and that the main subplot belonged to Panna, the girl he’d left behind. But because the point of view ricocheted between them and random other people, I never felt like I really got under their skin and found what made them tick. Although the story moved along at a smart clip and had a solid plotline, I always felt a step removed from the action.
Not everyone feels as I do about it. Polivka’s editor, Nick Harrison said this in an interview with Becky Miller:
Bryan’s ability to handle the point of view shifts necessary to pull off this feat is awesome—and unique. Not many authors handle point of view as well as Bryan does. I consider Bryan’s use of point of view a huge asset to the book—even though I know that all the writing books warn against such shifts. I think they do this because few authors can handle those shifts well. Bryan is a master at it, in my opinion.
Check in tomorrow to see what Bryan has to say about ominiscient!
Meanwhile, lots of other bloggers are talking up The Legend of the Firefish. Check them out!
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