Book review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab

Book cover: The Pirates! In an Adventure with ScientistsAs someone who has, by dint of surname, been associated with seafaring scoundrels all my life, I was pretty much obligated to pick this up before my trip to DC. I started reading the Scientists volume (it’s two books in one!) on the flight home, with embarrassing consequences (laughter and at least one particularly loud snort). So fired up was I by the time I got home that I cajoled my dear companion to let me read it aloud to him.

Both novels feature the dashing, bearded Pirate Captain, a man who lives by his motto (”I like ham”) and sails the seven seas (those being the North Sea, the one near Mozambique, the Serpentine in Hyde Park, Sea Number Four, the sea with all the rocks in it, Grumpy, and Sneezy), setting a course for adventure and enjoying lavish feasts with his motley band of swabbies: the pirate with a scarf, the pirate in green, the albino pirate, the pirate with an accordion, the pirate who liked to show off how much he knew about wine, and many, many others.

In An Adventure with Scientists, the crew tangle with Robert FitzRoy and Charles Darwin after the Pirate Captain’s arch-nemesis, Black Bellamy, tells them that the Beagle is heavy with gold bullion. Feeling a bit guilty for throwing a spanner into Darwin’s research, the Pirate Captain agrees to help the naturalist rescue his brother Erasmus from the black-hearted Bishop of Oxford, who wishes to quash Darwin’s controversial scientific ideas. (Note: they’re not what you think, unless you think they involve circus attractions.) The adventure features elaborate disguises, a Pirate Pork Convention, shopping on Carnaby Street, a fiendish instrument of death, John Merrick, a dapper chimpanzee, and a great deal of pirate roaring.

The pirates face a huge debt after buying a fabulous new ship in An Adventure with Ahab, forcing the Pirate Captain to enter a shanty-singing smackdown against Black Bellamy in Las Vegas, which does not go well. After discovering that the moody Captain Ahab is offering a 6,000-doubloon bounty for capturing the White Whale, the pirates begin a long and convoluted quest for the elusive beast. Like Scientists, Ahab comes chock-a-block with educational footnotes, maps, reader’s guides, and the like.

Fans of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series might take umbrage at Defoe’s treatment of nautical jargon (”Fire a cannonball at that boat!”) and pervasive ham-related silliness, but for the rest of us, these hornswoggling adventures will satisfy a thirst for piratical comic fiction. Two hooks up!



4 Responses to “Book review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and The Pirates! In an Adventure with Ahab”

  1. Ezra says:


    Visit Ezra

    Sounds cute. arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

  2. 2fs says:


    Visit 2fs

    Should sell well, being just in time for Talk Like a Pirate Day (9/19)…

  3. bernd says:


    Visit bernd

    I picked up a promo copy of the Ahab book off the freebie shelf of my old job, and MAN I LOVE THAT BOOK! I haven’t laughed out loud so much since Bored of the Rings in high school!

    I just happened to check your blog cause I haven’t in a long time, and boom, right near the top, one of my fave recent reads is reviewed. Very cool!

    Hope all is well, and I am VERY sorry I didn’t get to see you guys in DC while you were down here…

  4. prom dress says:


    Visit prom dress

    I really enjoyed the fact that the pirates didn’t go around killing people left and right but would rather spend their time having so much fun. These guys, would never be considered the wicked evil of the sea. They act more like they are on a cruise, which makes the book all that more interesting.


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