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review 2018-03-22 18:31
Blackbeard: The Birth of America Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton
Blackbeard: The Birth of America - Samuel Marquis

Blackbeard: The Birth of America

Samuel Marquis

Print Length: 544 pages

Publisher: Mount Sopris Publishing (February 6, 2018)

Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC





Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton


Over the years, I’ve read a number of Samuel Marquis’s historical thrillers. I’ve become a fan who’s happy with pretty much every volume, many of which are set during World War II. Among the many surprises of his new Blackbeard is the time period the story is set in. I’ve never associated Marquis with the early decades of the 18th century or the seas of the Caribbean and the pirates that sailed on them circa 1716-1718.


Another major surprise is Marquis’s portrayal of Blackbeard, the privateer turned pirate. I was surprised to see the pirate always referred to as Edward Thatch and not Edward Teach, the surname I always associated with Blackbeard. Well, Google for both names and both names will come up in multiple entries. Whatever handle Marquis gives his character, few readers are likely to anticipate seeing Blackbeard painted in the most heroic portrait possible, at least for the first two/thirds of the book. 


Marquis’s Blackbeard tries to avoid violence by only attacking ships that offer little resistance to minimize the carnage his crew might endure.   He’s a giant figure, a charismatic leader able to use eloquence to sway his extremely democratic sea-farers to his point of view. The pirates operate within the rules of the “articles” that give every man an equal vote in important decisions and an equal share in any booty. There is no racism.  We see this most evident in the character of Cesar, a former black slave now devoted to Blackbeard.


The pirates’ motives are in part economic, part political, and part a lust for the free life.  At first, pirate captains have charters given to them by royal governors based in the New World to attack Spanish and French ships.  But many dislike British King George from the House of Hanover and would prefer the crowning of James III from the House of Stuart.   For such reasons, Blackbeard’s small but powerful flotilla start attacking British ships in part to rebel against those who are rich and abusive to the common man.   The pirates start describing themselves as “Robin Hoods,” distributing wealth much more fairly than royal charters.


Another major character is Steede Bonnet, a Barbados plantation owner who throws it all away to become a pirate for the freedom of a life at sea despite his less than adequate knowledge of sea-going ways. Woven throughout the scenes set in the Caribbean and up the Atlantic coast, we also spend time on land with Alexander Spotswood, the despotic, vindictive and tyrannical lieutenant governor of Virginia. For Spotswood, capturing Blackbeard is a political move calculated to curry favor in England.  Very unpopular with his colony’s citizens, he suppresses any desires brought to him from the Virginia House of Burgesses that might erode his powers. He despises the new term of “Americans” and, in many ways, embodies the complaints the founders of the United States would fight against in just over fifty years.


So the “Golden Age of Piracy” is portrayed as the precursor for the American Revolution with Blackbeard and his cohorts the real patriots, at least in their own opinion.    In Marquis’s realm, these salty dogs never lacked for self-righteous self-justification. I suspect it’s my own preconceived notions, but I frequently found it difficult to accept the verisimilitude of these noble scalawags. I am perhaps a modern victim of the propaganda that cast Blackbeard as a vicious criminal in Boston newspapers of the time. I was also put off a bit by Marquis frequently repeating his points over and over which seemed like rather overdoing it. Padding?


The book never really builds up a head of steam, at least until the final third where Blackbeard realizes his flotilla has grown too large, that the British admiralty is about to end the age of freebooting piracy, and he makes some turning-point choices very different from what we’ve come to expect from him. Lots of surprises in this fast-moving section of the book.

 Throughout, Marquis’s gifts for description and character development are on full display to take his readers to times and places that, in this case, are captured in ways few of us would expect.    His closing end notes make it clear he sketched out most of this novel drawing from a wide spectrum of resources, many of them of rather recent vintage.


So, from page one to his appendices, unless you too are a Blackbeard scholar, Blackbeard: The Birth of America will be a constantly eye-opening series of surprises. You’ll feel certain you’re learning something as the story progresses. Pirates as the original American revolutionaries? Marquis builds a vivid and convincing case that is so.  



This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on March 20, 2018:


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review 2018-02-25 11:34
The Marquis and I (The Worthingtons) by Ella Quinn
The Marquis and I (The Worthingtons) - Ella Quinn


For the Worthington household, trouble is forever on the horizon. For Lady Charlotte, it started with an innocent act that spirals into a dangerous situation. When her hero turns out to be the town cad, the rumors start flying and her hopes of a good match start dying. For Con, a favor for a friend turns his world upside down. Now the roguish Marquis finds himself saddled with a bride he never wanted, but can't seem to live without. With a mystery waiting to be solved and a heart needing to be won, Constantine will risk everything for a love he won't live without. Ella Quinn draws readers in with her quickwitted characters and her intricately woven stories. The Marquis and I is a seductive adventure of love, lust and danger. Intriguing yet simple.

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review 2018-02-21 02:37
Great Story and Characters
The Mistress Enchants Her Marquis - Christina McKnight Elijah Watson, Marquis of Ridgefield, comes from a notorious family. Because of this, he’s determined to live above the reproach of society. Samantha Pengarden is an illegitimate daughter of an infamous Madame. Where Elijah wants to live a respectable life, Samantha has a bit more of a scandalous mindset. When Elijah first meets Samantha, he thinks he’s found a kindred spirit in his quest to have a normal life. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that he was wrong. This book was about two people who come from dysfunctional families way before it was mainstream. Their meeting is happenstance when they both need someone that will understand, From their first meeting, there’s a mutual attraction. What starts from there, grows into a closeness and eventually love that helps them both heal. This was a great book. I highly recommend. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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review 2017-08-23 00:00
Η φιλοσοφία στο μπουντουάρ
Η φιλοσοφία στο μπουντουάρ - Marquis de Sade,Βασίλης Καλλιπολίτης Όλα όσα περίμενα να διαβάσω στο Μέγα Ανατολικό του Εμπειρίκου τα βρήκα ανεξαιρέτως στον de Sade.
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review 2017-05-05 00:00
The Fourth Pularchek
The Fourth Pularchek - Samuel Marquis

Back in Jan 2016, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Coalition, book two in Samuel Marquis’s Nick Lassiter-Skyler Thriller Series. At the time, I wrote “novelist Samuel Marquis has accomplished something rather rare. In The Coalition, Marquis has injected fresh air into the often thread-bare genre of political conspiracy and assassination thrillers . . . only part of the saga deals with conspirators and killers and Machiavellian power moves. Much of the story deals with character regrets, guilt, and self-discovery on very personal levels that humanize even the villains.”

I could make the same claims for the Fourth Pularchek. This time around, the multi-faceted female assassin Skyler from The Coalition and Nick Lassiter from 2015’s The Devil’s Brigade become major characters together in yet another epic struggle. Again, the lines between good and evil, right and wrong are as blurry as any moral distinctions can be. Explorations into personal motivations, moral codes, and especially family history get even deeper in Marquis’s new novel.

For example, Nick Lassiter learns his biological father isn’t the man he thought but is rather the Polish billionaire and intelligence commander Stanislaw Pularchek. Pularchek heads an organization that hunts down and kills Islamic terrorists but more particularly ex and neo-Nazis, especially those connected to genocidal atrocities during World War II in Poland. Once Pularchek learns he has a biological heir, he does all he can to give Lassiter a full indoctrination into his family’s history which partially explains Pularchek’s series of vendettas against those he sees as pure evil.

One of Pularchek’s weapons is the female assassin Skyler who is fulfilling a promise to be a guardian angel for Pularchek while she hopes to finally retire from the sniper game. In fact, Skyler becomes something of a secondary character in the book, lurking in the background protecting her boss. At the same time, the world’s intelligence agencies are puzzled as they are certain Pularchek is pulling many deadly strings but he always has a very public alibi. There always seems to be a Pularchek double at the scene of the crimes and many speculate the billionaire is cloning himself.

The main adversary to Pularchek, Skyler, and Lassiter is German intelligence operative Angela Wolff, granddaughter of a Nazi general who wasn’t prosecuted at the Nuremburg trials. In Angela’s view, she is due an inheritance from her grandfather that Pularchek now possesses. Angela is willing to destroy anyone or anything that gets in her way.

While we learn much about Wolff’s motivations and desires, there’s really nothing to redeem her actions. We also meet other reprehensible characters in governmental agencies wanting to keep secrets secret or profit from the Nazi treasures themselves. Perhaps it’s not surprising the main protagonists don’t just battle with Wolf and her German mercenaries, but with powerful higher ups that nearly derail all of Pularchek’s efforts to cut down on the number of international villains.

The story is one set in a variety of vividly described settings from Washington D.C. to Berlin to Warsaw to Vienna. The action is non-stop and gripping with no shortages of surprises, especially in the final chapters. In the novel, Marquis brings together many of his established tropes and interests, notably incorporating his in-depth knowledge of World War II. (Another of Marquis’s trilogies focuses on WWII with Bodyguard of Deception and Altar of Resistance, the first two volumes published to date.) The Fourth Pularchek, a very enigmatic title, is scheduled to come out on the anniversary of D-Day, June 6.

If you haven’t tried a Samuel Marquis novel yet, here’s a good one to get introduced. If you’re already a fan of the award-winning novelist, this one won’t disappoint.

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on May 5, 2017:

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