Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Critical Reception of Theodosia and the Pirates: The Battle Against Britain

A new piece by Joe Eldred in LibertyBuzz has prompted me to examine the critical reception of the first Theodosia and the Pirates novel over the years. The LibertyBuzz review is very detailed, but it can be summed up succinctly  with these lines:

But please keep in mind that, while the novel is undoubtedly a tour-de-force of Rothbardian political theory, it does not seem like it, because the lessons are delicately embedded within the narrative.
The story remains primarily that of the internal struggles of a woman of the Early Republic.
What's really exciting about this new review is that it acknowledges the libertarian perspective of the novel, while also making note of the other elements of the plot and theme, and it shows how integrated all those thing are into a seamless whole.

Other reviews have focused on different aspects of the novel. For instance, the Eye on Life piece by Jerilee Wei focused on the speculative historical fiction aspects of the story. Is it all right to invent an extramarital romance for a person who disappeared two hundred or more years ago, leaving no trace? Or is this exploitation of the memory of a departed human being? The review compares what happened when a myth was created for George Washington out of a well-intentioned work of fiction for children:

This tendency isn't anything new.  Authors have capitalized on historical characters for generations, leading to widely accepted myths about famous people doing things that never happened in real life.  A prime example of this would be the myth of George Washington as a boy, chopping down a cherry tree.  That story first circulated as a fictional children's story.  Then, it took on a life of its own 1800, in a non-fiction biography by Mason Locke, who seized upon it as a way of making our first president as a more likeable character.  The fiction was good enough to become a myth, soon to be taught to generations of American children -- and the result was somewhere along the line everyone forgot the difference between fiction and biography.

As long as we keep fact and fiction separate, there should be no problem distinguishing the two. My book has a whole section in the back dedicated to separating the made-up parts from the history. There is also a bibliography for those who want to read non-fiction on the subject.

Leslie Fish focused mostly on the politics and class issues in the review on her blog:

Equally fascinating are the political intrigues between the freewheeling settlers of the gulf coast and the woefully inept officials of the new American republic.  The story is studded with examples of actual letters from the historical characters, giving unique insights into the volatile society of early America with its shifting relationships between the sexes, the races, and the influences of the neighboring European empires.  And of course, this being a historical Romance, there's plenty of good rampant sex. 
For some reviewers, such as the one at the Historical Novel Society in the UK, the main drawback of the book is its cover:

My main criticism is the cover which is simplistic in style, giving the initial impression of a young adult book (which this definitely is not!). 
Not really sure what is wrong with the cover, but here it is.
I love the illustration by Lanie Frick.

These should be enough different perspectives on the book to start out with before deciding whether it is for you. Of course, once you get to the Amazon page to buy it, there are several more reviews to choose from.


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