Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cinnamon And Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Woe has befallen Owen Wedgwood.  It is 1819, and he has just been kidnapped by the notorious female pirate, Hannah Mabbot, the redheaded scourge of the seas.  A sworn enemy of his employer, Lord Ramsey, and the Pendleton Trading Company, Mabbot has made it her task to plunder and sink every trade ship of the company she encounters.  Now she has captured Ramsey and his crew, and wastes no time executing them all.  All except Wedgwood, Ramsey's famous chef.  To him, Mabbot makes a deal.  She will keep him alive for as long as he makes her a gourmet meal once a week.

Thus begins the story of the pirate and the chef.  As the days turn into weeks and then months, Owen's initial fear and loathing of Mabbot turns into something more like admiration.  She does have the love and loyalty of her crew, and it isn't an easy job to win the hearts of a pirate crew.  She does love his food.  Who wouldn't?  Here is the description of one meal:

"Three courses," I announced.  "Herring pate with rosemary on walnut bread.  Tea-smoked eel ravioli seared with caramelized garlic and bay leaf.  As as touch√© finale, rum-poached figs stuffed with Pilfered Blue cheese and drizzled with honey."

As time goes by, Owen makes grudging friendships with the pirates and learns more of Mabbot's story.  Rather than being a miscreant out solely for treasure and impelled by greed, she fights Ramsey's company due to their trade in opium and the lives they destroy with this trade.  She also fights Ramsey for the Brass Fox, the only other pirate feared and admired as she is.  They both want to find the Fox and win him to their side in their war.

Eli Brown has written a lilting, adventurous tale of pirates and treasure, of loyalty and treachery, of food and friendship and a different way of life.  The characters are larger than life, and the reader is drawn into their world, fascinated by this glimpse into another way of life.  This book is recommended for readers interested in adventure and those looking for a book that is just plain fun.  For above all, Brown has created a fun tale that will leave the reader smiling as they close the book for the last time. 

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