On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides

by Tim Powers


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“Powers writes action and adventure that Indiana Jones could only dream of.”
Washington Post

“Tim Powers is a brilliant writer.”
—William Gibson

The remarkable Tim Powers—who ingeniously married the John Le Carrè spy novel to the otherworldly in his critically acclaimed Declare—brings us pirate adventure with a dazzling difference. On Stranger Tides features Blackbeard, ghosts, voodoo, zombies, the fable Fountain of Youth…and more swashbuckling action than you could shake a cutlass at, as reluctant buccaneer John Shandy braves all manner of peril, natural and supernatural, to rescue his ensorcelled love. Nominated for the Locus and World Fantasy Awards, On Stranger Tides is the book that inspired the motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides—non-stop, breathtaking fiction from the genius imagination that conceived Last Call, Expiration Date, and Three Days to Never.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062101075
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/26/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 191,134
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Tim Powers is the author of numerous novels including Hide Me Among the Graves, Three Days to Never, Declare, Last Call, and On Stranger Tides, which inspired the feature film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He has won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award twice, and the World Fantasy Award three times. He lives in San Bernardino, California.

What People are Saying About This

Peter Straub

“Tim Powers has long been one of my absolutely favorite writers, those whose new books I snatch up as soon as they appear….The qualities I most admire in him [are] intelligence, narrative sparkle, great dialogue, speculative imagination, and emotional power.”

Orson Scott Card

“[On Stranger Tides] promises marvels and horrors, and delivers them all. You’ll love the characters, you’ll stay awake all night reading it, and when you finally do sleep, you’ll find this story playing through your dreams.”

Customer Reviews

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On Stranger Tides 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Mark Spurbeck More than 1 year ago
It took me a little while to 'get' the world Powers sets up. But once I did, it sure was a fun adventure and perfect summer read.
beserene on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love Tim Powers. Tim Powers was, in fact, the first writer I ever wanted to marry. Not that I'd met the man, I'd just read his work, but that's how it is. (Tim Powers was eventually supplanted in my affections by Neil Gaiman, but now that Neil has fallen from his perch, I'm open to reuniting.) I'm not saying that simply to gush -- I am notifying you folks that I have a bias toward this man. I pretty much love everything he writes. And, yes, I loved this book. I am not claiming that it is perfect. In fact, Tim Powers does not write perfect books, but that always seems to be part of the charm. Sometimes he leaves you breathless with the pace of action, sometimes puzzled because a piece seems to be missing, until of course you stumble across it in the next chapter and realize that the book was just taunting you... but here's the key: you are always engaged. This particular novel engages the reader in piracy, in fact. Interestingly enough, though the novel "suggested" the fourth installment of the tired "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, it is not at all the bloodless, artless affair the film depicts. In fact, by "suggested" apparently the Disney folks mean that the book and the film have exactly one character and one plot point in common. Never judge a book by its loosely-affiliated movie. The book is much more interesting, much more adventurous. All that is exactly as it should be, because this is a Tim Powers book. Naturally, our protagonist, the unintentionally piratical Jack Shandy, roams all over the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico encountering not only pirates, but also vodun/voodoo and the sometimes awful and sometimes miraculous magic that it produces. Jack's multiple antagonists are, in fact, almost all practitioners of this mysterious art, which makes things tough for a former puppeteer. Yes, you read that correctly. Jack was raised as a traveling puppeteer. Not the sort of background one sees every day, even in a fictional character, but that is another wonderful element of a Tim Powers novel -- they are all deeply odd, in one way or another. With the pirates -- some of whom are the stuff of legend, like Blackbeard, and some of whom are purely invented creatures -- Powers has the room to play broadly with peculiarity. The result is a novel that artfully balances authentic emotion and sometimes disturbing violence, including some gruesome death and reanimation sequences, with a wry humor that never carries one too far over the top. Powers also has a talent for descriptions that -- with similar balance -- create a rich, real visual but don't distract from the movement of the story. There is a genuine pleasure in a book like this, one that offers so much, stitched together so well. The stitches may show in places, but this is the sort of book that becomes an old friend -- the kind of friend who wears old clothes comfortably and walks around in scuffed shoes, but always takes you on the best adventures.
fionna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So good to see this back in print! This book has everything you could ever want in a story: pirates, magic, voodoo, love, rum, blood, guts, death. Small press and limited edition, get your copy before they sell out...
-Cee- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This pirate book is gripping fun for pirate lovers! Arrrrgh! Of course you must be ready for adventure on the Caribbean high seas, voodoo magic, incredible antics, gruesome swordfights, and the power of iron and blood. Don't try to make the fantasy real while reading this. Allow Powers' tale-telling to make a bit of real into a lot of fantastic! The interweaving of the story's many threads brings you to a satisfying, open-ended conclusion... for now...
hredwards on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good read, entertaining but couldn't quite connect some how.
lewispike on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book ties together two of the things that spring to mind when you think of the Caribbean and its history: Pirates and Voodoo. At first this might seem like an uneasy marriage, but it works incredibly well.Powers takes well documented actual facts, such as Blackbeard wearing smouldering fuzes in his beard "to make him more fearsome" and the sinking of Port Royal and invests them magical significance and ties it all into a compelling story.Well worth the read, and some fascinating ideas come out of the fusion, deftly handled as you would expect from the author of other books that do similar things such as "The Stress of her Regard" and "The Anubis Gates." Absolutely well worth it, and not a long read - it's too likely to make you not put it down for that!
BobNolin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of Powers' early novels, recently reprinted. I can see now why it was out of print. Did not hold my interest at all. Returned it to the library after 100 pages.
craso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Puppeteer John Chandagnac was sailing to Jamaica to confront his uncle who stole his father¿s inheritance. While en route, his ship is waylaid by pirates who give him the option of joining them or being put to death. He chooses to become a pirate and his adventures begin.Tim Powers is a great action adventure writer who includes historical characters and events in his stories. The plot includes real pirates, Blackbeard, Stede Bonnett, and genuine historical incidences; such as Woode Rogers¿s arrival at New Providence with royal pardons for the pirates. This isn¿t just a pirate story; it is a fantasy story with dueling sorcerers who use magic to gain power, immortality and to bring back loved ones from the dead. They raise ghost vessels and crews from the sea and use zombies as their servants. The narrative is fast paced with many sword fights and cannon battles between ships. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
grizzly.anderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I must have read this one years and years ago, as I didn't remember it but while reading it came back to me. Obviously it didn't make a big impression on me then, and I like Powers enough to pick up something old. This is from the period of time when Powers was working out his own brand of fantasy and magic and story telling using the framework of existing mythologies (Pirates, Vampires and so forth). They aren't his best books, in my opinion, because he is constrained in how he wants to treat the supernatural by the framework. That said, On Stranger Tides is well written and the characters are interesting. The story is clearly Powers's own take on immortal pirates and ships crewed by the dead. Jack Shandy must transform himself from mild-mannered puppeteer to pirate to voodoo magician to thwart powerful pirates and sorcerers seeking immortality. Jack's motivations are a little muddy. He may be doing it to thwart evil, to save the love of his life (though he hardly knows her), or to get revenge on the uncle who betrayed his father. Mostly the motives don't matter that much. Jack just moves from plot point to plot point.It seems at times that the story suffers from an excess of antagonists: Blackbeard, Benjamin Hurwood, Leo Friend, the thieving uncle. Certainly a substantial cast and the eventual downfall of evil as the evildoers turn on one another is not uncommon in a Powers story, but at 326 pages On Stranger Tides just doesn't have room for all of them. In later, longer books all the stories and sub-plots have a little more time and space to play out.All in all it is a fun book, and if you like Powers or you like swashbucklers, you'll probably enjoy this one.
mikewick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Why can't I find a scifi book that doesn't leave me wishing it had 100 less pages? I picked up On Stranger Tides because Cory Doctrow mentioned on BoingBoing that it was going to be the basis of the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean and came replete with zombies, pirates, & magic--who could ask for more? The book starts as a promising storyline of a young man seeking to revenge his father's betrayal, only to be shanghaied by pirates and forced to join in with their lot, leading him to taking on zombies, pirates, magicians, and Blackbeard the magical pirate. Eventually I found myself losing enthusiasm, however, as the narrative gets drawn out with the young man having to contend with several magicians, mutineering pirates, voodoo gods, the British navy, and his affections for the damsel in distress. What could have been a very good story told in less space gets a little bogged down, but it wasn't a total disappointment.
rakerman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The idea is interesting - magic/voodoo is real, in the time of pirates (particularly Blackbeard). But the execution was weak. There is really only one developed character, the protagonist, and everyone else is at best a sketch of an object with one particular objective. I suppose one is supposed to get a bit of a sense they are all puppets of great forces, but that's no excuse for wooden characterisations.There are a number of issues with the specifics of the book too. A Spanish Conquistador of that era would not be talking about atoms, and a European puppeteer certainly wouldn't have understood such talk. Let alone the previously deranged man having a long convenient multi-page period of lucidity when he explains in detail how to stop the main enemies. There was another key moment of the plot in which a gunshot is fired rather improbably in order to set up a particular outcome.The protagonist also seems to have a quite remarkable ability to learn new skills, apparently becoming an expert pirate on land in something like three weeks, and a master of sailing a pirate ship in 5 hours.It's a nice mashup of some different ideas, but it would benefit from being shorter with better defined characters, rather than in the end a definitely dramatic but almost clockwork-like closing of all the plot arcs.
mikemillertime on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book gained notoriety as being a supposed basis for the fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, and this novel certainly lived up to that franchise's sloppy and hokey reputation for muddled fantasy adventure. This book was maddeningly confusing, not just on the overall big levels of plot and characters that don't make sense, but even down to tiny moments of style and language that are just plain difficult to decipher what exactly is happening at any given moment. As a story full of magic, the plot conveniently relies on the unbelievably coincidental and convenient to push the story forward. I could only recommend the title to strict enthusiasts of both the pirate and fantasy genres. But this book was certainly strange, as I have so rarely encountered a piece of literature so poorly rendered on a fundamental level with clunky imagery and syntax.
KaneH More than 1 year ago
What do you get when you cross a tale of pirates, rum, gunpowder, swordfights, magic, voodoo, and people craving power, riches, and immortality while searching for the Fountain of Youth? Another great book from Tim Powers. Pulls you right in at the start for the meeting of old magic with the New World, and how the characters deal with it all. High seas adventure of the finest kind, a rollicking yarn that entertains with so much.
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