Buccaneer (The Molucca Star Quartet)

Written by Chris Thorndycroft
Review by Deborah Cay Wilding

Set during the golden age of piracy in the Caribbean, Buccaneer is Book 1 in the series, The Molucca Star Quartet, and follows the adventures of Philip Rake as he defies his impoverished childhood to seek his fortune. The year is 1713 when, after a youthful career of petty thievery on the back streets of Bristol, Rake is arrested, then offered a chance to ship out as an indentured man on an expedition led by Woodes Rogers. However, when he overhears a chance conversation between crew members, Rake learns that Rogers is seeking a lost pirate kingdom on Madagascar, where untold riches are for the taking. In a daring break for freedom, he and several mates jump ship, determined to take the treasure for themselves. What Rake can’t possibly factor into his plans at this point is the Molucca Star—a diamond of almost priceless value—or the course his life of piracy will take once he is touched by the stone’s irresistible lure.

Author Chris Thorndycroft cleverly ramps up the dramatic tension in Buccaneer by writing the story from the first-person perspective of protagonist Philip Rake, who recounts his exploits in a narrative that delivers stirring insights into his character as he matures into a skillful pirate captain—one who values his freedom and keeps the welfare of his crew in mind. All the while he sails across the Atlantic to plunder the seas and chase prizes alongside such legendary figures as Captain Hornigold and Blackbeard. Rake’s observations could have included a few more period details, but there is an immediacy to his point of view that heightens suspense and will capture the imagination of readers who enjoy a wild ride with a likeable scoundrel. A great start to the series.