Straight off the bat I’m happy to jump in by saying “Garrrrrr! I loves this book, me hearties!” Quite frankly, who doesn’t love pirates? And when those pirates are foxes and beavers and a whole host of other furry, woodland creatures then that makes it so much the better from my perspective!
And that’s not to say that this is what I would class as a cutesy, young adult novel. This is a straight up fantasy book, which holds up well with some of the greats of that genre, like my personal favourites, Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey.
The book is about Sylvester Lemmington. He is a Junior Archivist and Translator of Ancient Tongues. And he is a lemming. Like most lemmings, he lives a quiet life, working in the library, secretly hoping to steal a kiss from his childhood friend, Viola, and keeping his mum company in the vain hope that one day his father will return from the Great Exodus over the Mighty Enormous Cliff into the Great Wet Without End. He is quiet and reserved and perhaps even a little pedantic. Niggles are forming in the back of his mind about the society in which he lives – is there more out there beyond the comfortable confines of his quaint village, Foxglove. More to the point, why does the Great Spirit Lhaeminguas want the faithful to go on the Great Exodus to the Land of Destiny?
And that’s all I want to tell you. As I mentioned earlier, this is a novel about pirates, with fighting and grog and treasure, but if I detail any more of the plot, or indeed how poor little Sylvester gets tangled up with those scurvy knaves, then I’ll ruin your enjoyment of it! Suffice to say that I was hooked very quickly by this novel. With each new page comes a new piece of information, a morsel of intrigue or wave of skullduggery. The plot unfolds at a satisfying pace with some excellent, clever twists. The characters are truly three dimensional, and Dahlgren is something of a master at making you sympathise even with the most black-hearted blackguard.
This clearly gets a swashbuckling 10 out of 10 Extreme points from me. Reading this book transported me into the fantasy realm of Sagaria with its colourful characters, vivid landscapes and debauched pirate settlements. At some points I was even outflanked by Dahlgren, thinking that I had guessed where the plot was going, only to find it took a completely unexpected turn. That hasn’t happened for a while. Buy it, read it, love it. Yarghhhhhh!