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Not the Politically Correct Adventures of a Differently Abled Hero You Might Have Been Expecting,
This review is from: The Dagger Quick (The Dagger Chronicles) (Hardcover)
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When one is first presented with a recently written "Ripping Yarn" starring a handicapped child hero, one is entitled to roll one's eyes, for what could it possibly be but laughably unrealistic or (worse) bitterly angry at non-guilt-ridden norms? Ah, but Brian Eames did not write that sort of book, the first clue being his frequent use of the "C" word (cripple), starting with the second paragraph. Christopher (Kitto) Wheale (actually Quick) IS a cripple, and much as he hates people who see only his bent foot, he very quickly has bigger things to worry about, like the murder of his father and his being blamed for it, the kidnapping of his stepmother and half-brother, and the necessity of working with his pirate of an uncle if he wants to do anything about it... or even stay alive.
Refreshingly, there is no pretense that Kitto's clubfoot hasn't left its mark on him, mentally as well as physically. He is quick-tempered and stubborn to the point of recklessness, but he is also possessed of great courage and (when he succeeds in controlling himself) wise beyond his years. In addition thanks to a father who loved him intensely in his own peculiar way, he has the skills of a trade he never wanted but which will figure greatly in the adventure to come.
Mr. Eames has also chosen his setting well for a story starring such a hero; if there is any time and place in which a cripple might expect to better fit in and hold his own than among the pirates of the Golden Age, it escapes me. Though very few were congenital cripples like Kitto, the savagery of the warfare and the primitive state of medicine were such that peglegs, eyepatches, but not hooks were fairly common, and pirates' articles even rewarded such wounds gained in battle with extra shares of the loot. It is also an area where a little literary pushback is justified. Name as many crippled characters in pirate fiction as you can think of. Now name only the "good guy" cripples....
See the problem?
As for the story itself, Mr. Eames has written a marvel: wild adventure, surprising twists and turns, reckless courage, dastardly villainy, shameful treachery, secrets piled upon secrets, and moral accommodations made with practicality; it ought to make a heck of a movie,...
if Mr. Eames ever finishes it!
Yes, as other reviewers have complained, this is not a standalone book; rather the action halts at a convenient point to await the coming of a yet-to-be-announced, much less published, sequel.
Get back to work, Mr. Eames!