Friday, August 6, 2010

Review - "The Buccaneer’s Apprentice" by V. Briceland

Posted by Lisa Hurley

On his first sea voyage away from the magical city of Cassaforte, seventeen-year-old Nic Dattore awakens to find the vessel overrun by marauding pirates—and everyone else on board kidnapped or killed. After slaying the pirate who attacked him, Nic tosses a torch into a cache of gunpowder and blows up the ship.

Washed up on a deserted island, Nic and a motley crew of castaways decide to commandeer the pirate ship to get home. They battle pirates, assassins, and a cursed ship with a powerful secret while racing against time to save Cassaforte from a diabolical coup.
Niccolo, our young protagonist, has been born to a life of servitude tantamount to slavery. He must work off a debt earned just by being born, and is tossed throughout the years of his life from cruel master to cruel master. Nic believes he is cursed, for all his masters always meet a violent death. That is, until a stroke of luck transfers his bond to a troupe of actors led by Armand Arturo, who treats Nic with kindness and equality, something Nic had not known before in his life. Nic begins to believe his curse has lifted, but that feeling does not last, as Nic's time with the Arturos is cut short when their vessel is boarded by pirates, and Nic himself barely escapes with his life. His journey from this point on is fraught with danger, and the only way to survive is not by cutthroat violence, but by cleverly acting the part of pirate captain - a confident leader both ruthless and smart - a character known as The Drake. Niccolo's curse leads him to a discovery that challenges everything he has ever known about who he is and where he may have come from. The path that he chooses will change his destiny, and the destiny of his country and its people.

The Buccaneer’s Apprentice isn’t just a story about bloodthirsty pirates, romance coupled with danger and intrigue, and a young boy’s journey into manhood. This is also a tale about what Shakespeare so famously wrote in his play As You Like It, “All the world 's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” Nic is thrust from a world of servitude to one in which he must fight to survive. His worldly experience with many different masters over the years has left him with a plethora of skills, knowledge, and cunning. He takes on the role that is necessary, and uses his experience to channel the character of The Drake. The other characters in the novel find themselves acting various roles as well, whether they desire to or not. This juxtaposition between fantasy and reality, a role and a real person, becomes a mirror for Nic's own personal struggle to claim an identity all his own - not attached to any master or any debt.

This story is a delight from beginning to end. The plot is creative, the prose well written and smart. The world Briceland has created has depth and a colorful variance of different cultures and languages. The Buccaneer's Apprentice is an exciting piece of young adult fiction which challenges its readers to not just read the story and absorb it like sponges, but to think and reflect along the way. This is a read I would recommend to those interested in piracy, the theater, the supernatural and the suspenseful - it does not disappoint on any of these accounts, and establishes itself as a unique and clever story set in a world one would very much like to get back to. 
  • Publisher: Flux
  • Age Range: Young Adult
  • Pub. Date: April 2010
  • 360pp 
The Cassaforte Chronicles Series:
  1. The Glass Maker’s Daughter (2008)
  2. The Buccaneer’s Apprentice (2009)
  3. The Nascenza Conspiracy (January 2011)

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