On Stranger Tides
Like everything Tim Powers writes, On Stranger Tides is great fun. It’s packed with swashbuckling, pirates, magic, the fountain of youth and a little romance.
My only quibble with the book is the story arc. It’s strange and while I can’t say that it doesn’t work, I can’t really say that it does work. The book is broken in to four parts: prologue, book I, book II and epilogue. By the end of book I the plot and character conflicts introduced to that point are resolved. Book II begins using most of the same characters as the previous book, but introduces a new conflict that is somewhat related to the conflict of book I. In the course of one novel Powers takes us through two complete plot arcs. I’m a bit puzzled as to why both of these plot arcs needed to be in the same novel. It seems as if Powers might have tried to rework the events to seem more like a single story than two separate episodes.
Much as it puzzled me, the construction of the narrative probably won’t bother most readers. It’s a testament to how engaging Powers is as a storyteller.