Today I’m very lucky to have the author of The Assassin’s Curse (Review tomorrow!) – Cassandra Rose Clarke – stop by the blog and talk about Pirates. As they feature heavily in the novel, they’re quite the talking point. Thank you to Cassie for taking time to tell us about her favourite pirates.
A lot of people seem taken with the pirate aspect of The Assassin’s Curse, something I didn’t quite expect when I wrote the book. I’ve talked on the blog tour already about why historical pirates interested me, so I thought here I could touch on what makes fictional pirates so interesting. And I thought I’d do it by listing my five favorite fictional pirates, in no particular order.
1. Long John Silver: Even before he lent his name to a chain of fast food seafood restaurants, Long John Silver was the fictional pirate. Robert Louis Stevenson’s depiction of him in Treasure Island has arguably had the most influence on how we, in the twenty-first century, think about pirates. Peg legs? Shoulder parrots? X marks the spot? All those pirate trappings were borne of Treasure Island. We can thank Long John Silver, along with Peter Pan’s Captain Hook, for turning pirates into bad guys (even though Long John Silver actually possesses a fair amount of moral ambiguity in the original story).
There are many depictions of Long John Silver across the media, but I want to give a shout-out to the most wonderful and bizarre of them all, a 2002 Disney movie called Treasure Planet. Look it up, seriously. There are pre-Avatar cat aliens and space ships that look and work like sailing ships. Long John Silver is a cyborg. It’s magnificent.
2. Captain Jack Sparrow: I have a feeling that Jack Sparrow may give Long John Silver a bit of competition in the “most influential fictional pirate” category, at least in the long term. I mean, I’ve been to Renaissance festivals since the release of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie nine years ago. I’ve seen the Jack Sparrows stumbling around. I can imagine that in one hundred years, scraggly braided beards will replace the peg leg as the most infamous pirate signifier.
Really, though, what I like most about Captain Jack Sparrow is that he captures one of things that’s fascinating about pirates for me, which is their slipperiness. Jack Sparrow is so slippery in his wheeling-and-dealing that about halfway through the second movie nothing makes sense any more. Yeah, okay, maybe that’s just a flaw with the movie’s script, but deep down I like to imagine it’s because Jack Sparrow’s trickiness is so finely-tuned that a non-pirate like myself simply can’t follow it.
3. Han Solo: Yes, space pirates count as pirates.
Honestly, I think Han Solo (not to mention his subsequent popularity) was more of an influence on Captain Jack Sparrow’s character than Long John Silver. You have that same quasi-moral ambiguity — Han Solo is clearly a good guy in the movies, but there’s a reason everyone went into a tizzy when George Lucas ensured that he didn’t shoot first. Everyone loves a rogue! For me, pirates’ roguishness is another big reason for my fascination with them. I love morally ambiguous characters, and pirates are always a great vehicle for exploring moral grey areas. Han Solo lives outside the law, more or less, but during the course of the Star Wars trilogy he comes to fight for the common good.
4. Smee (from the movie Hook): I picked this guy because I like the idea that not all pirates are badasses. I’ll be honest: I’ve never read the Peter Pan play, and it’s been about a million years since I saw the Disney animated film, so I really don’t know what the original Smee was like. But in the movie Hook (which, in case you’ve forgotten, was a ridiculous, over-the-top, adultified version of Peter Pan), Smee’s character was this smarmy bureaucrat who convinces Hook to manipulate Peter’s children against him. There’s more than one way to be a pirate.
5. I really wanted at least one fictional pirate on this list to be a woman, but the only two I could think of were Elizabeth Swann and Angelica, both characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Of the two of them, I have more of a fondness for Angelica (she was in the most recent movie, as Blackbeard’s daughter) since she’s basically the female counterpart to Captain Jack Sparrow in terms of trickiness.
It actually surprises me that no one’s yet bothered to make a movie about a pair of real-life lady pirates, Anne Bonny and Mary Read. I really don’t have room here to tell you even a summarized version of their story, but rest assured that it involves crossdressing, mistaken identities, love affairs, and, of course, lots and lots of piracy. Get on it, Hollywood!
Wait… where are you going? There’s more! Would you like to win an exclusive, one of a kind annotated version of The Assassin’s Curse? Of course you do, it features sketches, deleted scenes and lots more about the characters. Each blog that has taken part in the tour will pick one winner and that person will go into a hat, the winner drawn at that stage wins the book. It is an International giveaway and all you need to do is leave a comment below!