cover image Pirate Freedom

Pirate Freedom

Gene Wolfe, . . Tor, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1878-7

Fantasist extraordinaire Wolfe (The Wizard ) dabbles in time travel paradoxes for this charming tale of a monastic novice in postcommunist Cuba. As the years pass, Christopher, the son of an American crime lord, gradually loses touch with his family and decides against taking holy orders. He leaves the monastery and finds himself in the 18th century. This unexplained time slip, along with Chris’s equally mysterious jump to the late 20th century, are the only fantastic elements in what’s otherwise a fairly straightforward tale of derring-do on the high seas. Wolfe describes his plucky young hero’s rise from much abused common seaman to successful pirate captain, filling his story with duels, treachery, ship-to-ship combat and an abundance of accurate period detail, avoiding both the larger than life romanticism and the fantastical elements often associated with such pirate tales. Captain Chris is a laconic and rather unemotional narrator, which may put off some readers, but Wolfe’s elegant prose still makes this relatively minor effort worth reading. (Nov.)