When I think beach, I think pirates. Despicable or honorable, there’s just something about a man who makes his own rules. So, this being beach week, I’d like to share some of my favourite pirates.
Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Honestly, a lot of my love for Jack Sparrow comes from the fact he’s played by Johnny Depp. Who else could have given the character so much charm? We love him even when he’s being bad—perhaps especially when he’s being bad. He also proves, time and again, the first rule of pirating: you don’t necessarily need to be a complete reprobate to be a good pirate, but you should look and act the part at all times—just in case someone catches on to the fact you’ve a heart buried under that rum soaked exterior.
My favourite Jack Sparrow moments are the ones where he struggles against doing the right thing.
Kennit (Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb)
Firstly, if you have not read these books, go get them now. High fantasy meets the high seas!
Kennit is the best sort of pirate. He’s ambitious, ruthless, and prepared to make any sacrifice in order to achieve his goal of uniting all the pirate townships under his banner. He wants to be king. I fell in love with him in Ship of Magic when his earnest desire to be dastardly seemed constantly thwarted by the need to save people. His dual nature is what makes him so interesting.
As with all of Hobb’s characters, however, this first glimpse of Kennit only tells a part of the story. He is one of those poor, tortured souls I love to read about. (What? Like no one else loves antiheroes.)
Edward Kenway (Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag)
Okay, going to try and stick to just Edward Kenway here, but… Gah, the story of Assassin’s Creed! To fully explain who this guy is… Nope. We don’t have time for that. (Go play the games!)
Edward begins his seafaring career as a privateer. After the Treaty of Utrecht puts an end to his career, he drifts into pirating. A shipwreck changes his destiny yet again. Edward is a man who is so easy to identify with: he dreams big, but is again constrained by an innate goodness. He’d think nothing of stealing a purse, but if it was your last coin? Nope, you need it more than him. He is also a staunch believer in the pirate code.
What makes the Assassin’s Creed games so enjoyable is the blend of storytelling and history. Black Flag does this particularly well, tying Edward’s story into that of the infamous Blackbeard. There is also ample opportunity to pillage ships and towns, and basically act out most of your pirate fantasies.
Edward Teach (all the stories!)
Last, but certainly not least, is the legend who inspired budding pirates the world over. And wouldn’t that make him proud? I’m talking about Blackbeard, who famously (infamously) relied on his fearsome reputation to intimidate his enemies.
Blackbeard is portrayed variously, but one of my favourite interpretations was brought to life by John Malkovich in the short-lived TV drama Crossbones. In fact, knowing Malkovich would be taking on that role was the reason I started watching—and I think he nailed it. He managed to combine the ruthlessness Blackbeard’s reputation is based upon with several hints of the man behind the beard: someone who was more than a little paranoid, a man who could love and was loved in turn, a capable leader, and a man prepared to go to great lengths to protect those sworn to him.
I hope I’ve inspired you to go check out some pirate stories. There are so many good ones, and they almost always involve a wonderful thread of romance! There is also at least a hint of magic in every good pirate tale, whether set in our world, or one of the author’s imagination.
Who are your favourite pirates? J
Kelly Jensen hasn’t written a pirate story…yet. She wants to, but she’s been a little busy writing about aliens, apocalypses and romance.