Author: George Bryan Polivka
Series: The Trophy Chase Trilogy
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
I. Loved. This. Book. Seriously, I couldn't put it down.
I came across this book completely by accident while looking for something else online, but when I saw that it was fantasy and written by a Christian author, I figured it was worth a look. And boy howdy, was it worth the look!
After being dishonorably expelled from seminary, Packer Throme became the star pupil of Nearing Vast's fencing school. Now he has a plan to help the friends and neighbors of his youth out of the poverty of the fishing industry by learning to hunt and kill the legendary Firefish - a monstrous sea creature whose meat has healing and strengthening properties. Armed with information from his deceased father's journal, Packer sets out to stow away on the Trophy Chase, a pirate ship turned Firefish-hunting boat, and learn the art of hunting the beasts.
Unfortunately, it isn't quite that simple. What follows is a fast-paced, heart-pounding adventure that includes swordfights, high-seas adventure, deadly encounters with Firefish, love, betrayal, and more, and it doesn't relent for a minute from the first page to the last.
As I said before, I loved this book. Some aspects of it were very dark, violent, even brutal, but it was all necessary to portray the depravity of the pirates' world and lifestyle, and it was handled very skillfully by the author. And I loved the way the author managed to transition from darkness to humor without making the story feel forced or awkward. Both sides of the coin felt completely natural, which takes rare skill on the part of the author, and the results in The Legend of the Firefish were delightful. One scene I found particularly entertaining is when one of the characters drowns and another character performs CPR. The other characters, born and raised in a culture similar to our world's eighteenth century, are horrified when the drowned character coughs up a bellyful of water and starts breathing again. They come to the conclusion that the character who performed CPR must be some kind of voodoo witch to do such a thing. You've gotta love that kind of humor.
A few things to be aware of: One is the violence, as I've already mentioned. I wouldn't say it was gory, but there was definitely a lot of bloodshed and death.
Another is the fact that the main characters all drink. There is very little actual drunkenness, and none on the part of the main character (though he does drink as well), but it's something to be aware of if that is a problem for you.
The main character and his love interest/almost-fiancee kiss a couple of times over the course of the story. There is nothing worse than that anywhere in the story, but it's also something to be aware of.
One last thing, this one more of an annoyance than a real problem, is that the author very frequently changes the character point of view in mid-scene... sometimes even mid-paragraph. Over all it didn't cause a ton of problems for me as a reader, but there were a few places where I did struggle to figure out whose viewpoint I was supposed to be in.
And in a few places, the individual characters' spiritual arcs felt kind of muddled and confused, or like they were waffling sporadically back and forth without much rhyme or reason. At first it was vaguely annoying, but if you think about it, how often is a real person's real spiritual journey cut and dried and uncomplicated? So that really didn't bother me that much. And although I didn't always agree with the choices the characters made, I could always see how they had arrived at that conclusion, which is much better than wondering 'Where in the world did that come from?'.
There were a couple of instances where the thought: "Christian version of Pirates of the Caribbean" crossed my mind, but not at all in a bad way. A few of the story elements had a somewhat PotC-esque flavor to them, but I never felt like I was reading a Christian 're-make' at all.
Aside from those few things, as I've already made abundantly clear, this was an awesome book! I will be re-reading it very soon, because it had me so riveted that I sped through in record time so I'm sure there are details I missed. If you're looking for a riveting, rip-roaring nautical adventure, The Legend of the Firefish is for you!