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The Golden Age of Piracy - an Editorial Review of "Muddied Waters"

Book Blurb:

It is the end of the Golden Age of Piracy, with all of the most famous bandits either killed, disappeared, or captured and executed by authorities. A retiring viceroy, on his way home and carrying with him decades worth of riches, runs into one of the few crews of brigands left roaming the open waters. His misfortune is not only the haul of their lives, but a prize for the ages. The pirates attempt to disappear with the treasure, not realizing that this viceroy will stop at nothing to regain what has been stolen from him. Muddied Waters is a tale of ambitious and uncompromising men who carry with them not only the fruits of their plunder, but the weight of its true cost.

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Author Bio:

Theo Clarkson is a Canadian author living in Toronto. His works include the Muddied Waters duology, novella Eternal Return and short story The Leak. He counts J.R.R. Tolkien, Irvine Welsh, Cormac McCarthy and Anthony Bourdain as his foremost literary influences.

Editorial Review:

Muddied Waters by Theo Clarkson is a tale of one of the last groups of pirates still sailing the high seas as the Golden Age of Piracy is coming to an end. The pirates upon the ship Sweet Liberty stumble across a Portuguese ship carrying cargo worth a fortune. It is the payday that they’ve all been hoping and waiting for. Aboard the Portuguese ship is the Portuguese king’s cousin. The pirates see the opportunity that could provide them with even more riches so they choose to hold the king’s cousin, Belo, hostage. A manhunt that will unfold that the tough pirates are not prepared for. Muddied Waters is a fast-paced adventure that will keep readers invested in the story and on the edge of their seats from page one all the way until the end.

The rumors were partly correct; three people were to be executed that day, though not all were men. One looked much too young to be called a man. The masked executioner meticulously placed the nooses around each neck one by one, starting first with a clearly terrified man, then the boy, and finally with the sneering Captain Pete. ”

The characters in Muddied Waters are very well-written and developed. Clarkson has expertly crafted characters that are both believable as characters and also reflective of the time period and setting. Each of Clarkson’s characters was so unique and interesting. Their personality traits were perfect and represented the world of pirates in exactly the way a reader would expect with several surprises mixed in. He also utilizes an interesting tacit of starting the book with some of the characters' fate leaving readers wondering how they ended up in such a precarious position while also foreshadowing events to come.

The stricken marauder dropped in front of Tom, blood pooling immediately around his silently writhing body. He heard screaming over the sound of wet thumps and bone crunching, but his attention was focused solely on the wound in his belly. He clutched at it, his breathing short and fast, trying to stem the outflow of blood through dirty fingers as the violence around him faded.”

Pirates and piracy-focused historical fiction are not typical of the genre so Clarkson definitely had a task to create a historical fiction novel that represents the setting as well as characters that have traits that are true to the time period. Clarkson mastered this beautifully. He was as able to use vivid descriptions to describe the setting and time period in such a way that the reader feels like they have traveled right back in time. It is engrossing and will easily draw readers in. In order to craft a novel like this so well, Clarkson clearly had to complete some research so that he understands the time period, the life of a pirate, and so much more. He then used that research and knowledge to craft a phenomenal historical fiction novel.

And now he was on a ship in the middle of an ocean, searching for a needle in an impossibly large haystack, stood beside an apparition from his childhood manifested into the man steering him towards his goal.”

Clarkson’s writing is absolutely phenomenal and the prose is just beautiful. He writes in a way that the reader feels completely immersed in. this immersion almost definitely stems from the details and imagery that Clarkson includes in his writing, Extremely detailed descriptions allow readers to easily visualize the settings, people, and scenarios that Clarkson is describing. This is particularly evident in the fight scenes throughout the book. It is one of the most detailed and immersive historical fiction books available. Readers will adore Clarkson’s writing style and will find it hard to put down this world that he has created through his words.

For the first time in a long time, Awiti was tired. His arms were tied tightly behind his back and around a wooden stake. Teague sat on the other side of the path, the two having been placed at the entrance to the main hall of the maroon village.”

Another aspect of Clarkson’s novel that readers will love is the layers of plot that he has woven into the story. There are several different plot lines tied to each of the characters. Each character’s story and problems are all developed and while they intertwine, Clarkson does a fantastic job maintaining much of each storyline independently from the others. You can see how they are related and will eventually come together. Readers will be invested in all of the plot lines rather than just one and capturing the attention of an audience with so many different storylines and plot elements is the mark of a great author.

There will come a point for us where we will not be hidden any longer. The world will find us one day, and we will have to fight it or be made slaves once more. All established nations have treasuries. Now, we have one too. And guns and gunpowder.”

Muddied Waters has a target audience that consists of historical fiction fans, those who love the time period in which piracy was an extensive operation, mystery lovers, and those who just love a good tale. The great storytelling in Muddied Waters will easily capture the attention of readers who just love a great fictional story. The book is approaching almost five hundred pages. Some readers are often reluctant to read a book that long but Muddied Waters is definitely worth the reading commitment.

As the tide came back in, the stronger currents would sweep away the pieces. This cycle would continue until the ship slowly broke apart from the elements and its own weight, leaving no trace that there was ever anything there.”

Clarkson’s ability to craft magical settings that are vivid and develop characters that readers truly care about helps to earn Muddied Waters a rate of five out of five. Well-developed and well-written storylines that will have readers unable to stop reading combined with thorough research to craft a story that readers won’t soon forget.


Muddied Waters by Theo Clarkson receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company


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