Where I Got It: Review copy from one of the narrators via Everything Audiobooks Facebook page (thanks!).
Narrators: Alex Hyde-White, Roy Dotrice, Scott Brick, Stefan Rudnicki, William Dufris, Jayne Entwistle, Simon Vance, R. C. Bray, and then quite a few more.
Publisher: Punch Audio/Smoke N Oakum (2015)
Length: 10 hours 54 minutes
Series: Book 1 Black Sam (I assume we will have a sequel because this book left the ending set up for another adventure)
Note: GoodReads has this book written by two authors: James Lewis and Mat McLeod. However, McLeod’s name doesn’t appear on any of the cover art and he is not listed as an author of the book Audible.com. So, not too sure what is going on there.
It’s the early 1700s, the War of the Spanish Succession has ended, and Sam Bellamy, like so many others, is out of a job. The American colonies is where work and opportunity lay. He falls in love with Maria, a New England debutante who comes from a family of some wealth and repute. Sam must make a name (and a wealthy bank account) for himself before Maria’s parents will even consider him a candidate for her hand. Sam takes on a ship and crew to go treasure hunting off the coast of the Florida. Along the way he meets several other entrepreneurs (aka pirates), earns a few enemies, suffers loss, and gains a wealth of knowledge.
Sam is a good guy, like the boy next door. He can be depended on to do the honorable thing. So while his character was pretty predictable, he was still fun and easy to connect with. He runs around saving women, rescuing his men, and standing up to bullies and other disreputables. In fact, his inclinations towards the good true often leave him in a fight.
This is the time of privateers. It seems every major European country has their privateers. The rules these privateers live by seems largely up to the captain. Needless to say if you privateer on an opposing countries ships and get caught, you can be hung as a pirate. The line between pirate and privateer is often thin. I bet you can guess how our hero Black Sam Bellamy ends up in so much trouble!
There’s plenty of historical characters, like Black Beard the pirate, walking in and giving cameos in this book. That was quite fun and I am sure there are more than I recognized. Sometimes they were giving Sam a hand, sometimes obstructing him, and definitely showing him the seedier side to pirating.
There are very few women in this story and often they are focused on the men and/or need rescuing. Maria was the main female and even so she had a small role. If she wasn’t thinking about men she was talking to or about them. Hence, the ladies were entirely predictable and rather boring.
I did enjoy the book. The plot was a bit predictable because the main characters were predictable. Even so, it was a fun romp through the American colonies and on the high seas. The good guys win, the sticklers for protocol get snubbed and perhaps learn something, and the bad guys either die or go on to wreak havoc for a sequel. If you are looking for a pirate adventure that doesn’t require close attention, then this is perfect brain candy.
The Narration: As you can see above, there was quite the cast for this book! Alex Hyde-White was our main narrator and he did a really good job as Sam Bellamy’s voice. I had a fun time picking out familiar narrators as they popped in and out. My only criticism is that sometimes the background white noise changed as we switched narrators, making it clear that not everyone was in the same studio during recording, and also some studios had a better quality of recording than others.
What I Liked: Fun historical fiction; Sam is easy to cheer for; historical figures pop in and out; great cast for the narration.
What I Disliked: Very few ladies and they have no lives outside of what concerns the men; plot was a bit predictable.