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Thursday, 14 May 2015
The Last Bookaneer
The Last Bookaneer
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
book'a-neer' (bŏŏk'kå-nēr'), n. a literary pirate; an individual capable of doing all that must be done in the universe of books that publishers, authors, and readers must not have a part in
London, 1890—Pen Davenport is the most infamous bookaneer in Europe. A master of disguise, he makes his living stalking harbors, coffeehouses, and print shops for the latest manuscript to steal. But this golden age of publishing is on the verge of collapse. For a hundred years, loose copyright laws and a hungry reading public created a unique opportunity: books could easily be published without an author’s permission. Authors gained fame but suffered financially—Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few—but publishers reaped enormous profits while readers bought books inexpensively. Yet on the eve of the twentieth century, a new international treaty is signed to grind this literary underground to a sharp halt. The bookaneers are on the verge of extinction.
From the author of The Dante Club, Matthew Pearl, The Last Bookaneer is the astonishing story of these literary thieves’ epic final heist. On the island of Samoa, a dying Robert Louis Stevenson labors over a new novel. The thought of one last book from the great author fires the imaginations of the bookaneers, and soon Davenport sets out for the South Pacific island. As always, Davenport is reluctantly accompanied by his assistant Fergins, who is whisked across the world for one final caper. Fergins soon discovers the supreme thrill of aiding Davenport in his quest to steal Stevenson’s manuscript and make a fortune before the new treaty ends the bookaneers’ trade forever. But Davenport is hardly the only bookaneer with a mind to pirate Stevenson’s last novel. His longtime adversary, the monstrous Belial, appears on the island, and soon Davenport, Fergins, and Belial find themselves embroiled in a conflict larger, perhaps, than literature itself.
Oh my God I LOVED THIS BOOK! I loved the entire idea of Bookaneers and the premise of the book, it's what drew me in, and when it arrived to review, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it was utterly fantastic!
The book was fascinating as was the note at the end because I actually had no idea about the publishing laws at the time the book was set, and that there where people who actually published the manuscripts without permission, which is where the author got the idea for the Bookaneers. All this information I gleaned from the book and the author's note at the end, the shadowy agents who acquired the manuscripts really is too tempting to resist!
As a total book nerd, this book was just right up my street to be honest! I mean....a bookseller....book pirates and then Robert Louis Stevenson himself as a secondary character?! I was literally fangirling and geeking out all over the place as I was reading!
The setting was vivid, and the book sucked you in right from the first page. I was glued to the book the entire time, fascinated and compelled to keep on reading. There are so many genres in this book it's insane, but it somehow manages to work! My main reason for wanting to read this was how unique it seemed, and it was indeed an original read, and the book was written very cleverly! I was not disappointed at all!
I do think some people are going to struggle with the book though it may seem like a slog with the wording and so on, but for me personally, I didn't find it a problem, in fact it set the voice of the book perfectly, you get a true Victorian perspective, which considering the setting, may make modern readers feel quite uncomfortable. There's loads in the book about the unrest between the natives and slaves and colonisers, with Stevenson himself having many an interaction with the slaves.
The book is a fantastic read, there's adventure, and books and some fantastic plot twists that you won't see coming a mile off, and will end up being suitably shocked and surprised by! Fact and fiction are expertly woven together to create an engaging and fascinating tale. The characters are interesting and intriguing, the dense narrative might put off some readers, along with the descriptions, which I found beautifully written and vivid, but others might find an issue with.
I don't think I'll ever get enough of the idea of the Bookaneers to be honest!