Pirate: Privateer

Written by Tim Severin
Review by Tim Smith

This fourth installment of Tim Severin’s Pirate series finds Hector Lynch and his companions plundering a Spanish wreck. Having promised his wife, Maria, that he will quit piracy, this seems like a safer, if not altogether legal option. But on their return they are captured by the notorious Captain de Graff. They manage to escape, but this is only the beginning of an adventure that sees them stranded on a desert island, fighting mutineers, facing charges of piracy and then charged with the task of hunting down de Graff himself. Meanwhile, Maria travels to Port Royal in search of her missing husband, where events reach a startlingly apocalyptic climax.

Although this is the fourth in the series it can be read as a standalone without problem. This rather stilted romp around the 17th-century Caribbean has its focus firmly fixed on place and action rather than characterisation or dialogue. The book works best when Tim Severin describes situations requiring survival knowledge, which is when his background in real-life adventure writing comes to the fore. For those who are looking for an undemanding, simple tale of pirate derring-do, then this may well be the book for you. For those who place more stress upon the quality of writing then, like Hector Lynch, they may not find it quite so plain sailing.