Being eaten by cannibals was just a setback for one of the most feared pirates in history, François l’Olonnais. The 16th century French pirate’s name may not be as well known as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, or William Kidd, but his evil reputation has hung around long after his demise in 1668.
Accounts of his life and treachery are sketchy; yet, what little is known paints a gruesome picture of the buccaneer. He honed torturing techniques, such as beheading and popping captives’ eyes out of their sockets, when he wasn’t pillaging or engaging in his favorite pastime, taking revenge on the Spanish. You can find more non-fiction on l’Olonnais, but the rest of this blog focuses on his current, and, of course, fictional activities.
The Pirate Ghost
Four hundred years after becoming a meal, l’Olonnais continues to haunt people as a ghost. All hell breaks loose when his cherished cutlass is removed from the wreckage of his ship, somewhere off the Panama coast. After the cutlass is stowed away in a trophy case out of the buccaneer’s reach, he stops at nothing to get it back. L’Olonnois believes only a special person can reclaim what is lost, and he has his sights on that person.
Cliff Klopt, the Captain
Enter the Klopt family. The patriarch, Cliff, is a mild-mannered, all-around family guy. The college graduate is a skilled mechanic, among other talents, good looking, and environmentally conscious. However, times are tough. He lost his job, wife, home, and most of his ability to reason along with his common sense. The only possession he has left is his old boat, which he decides will make a great pirate ship. Steal from the rich and give to—charity. The Robin Hood pirate, nicknamed Hoody, isn’t the best pirate in history, but he’s handy and tries to be prepared. However, nothing could possibly prepare him for an angry pirate ghost on a mission.
The Crew of the Swashbuckler
Hoody’s crew is comprised of his boys, Connor, Tommy, and Dillon. Connor is quick-witted and cautious, Tommy is creative and reckless, and Dillon is smart and carefree. The three brothers know Hoody has gone off the deep end, but they honor their mother’s dying wish—watch out for each other—and they play along.
For a while, living on the boat is fun, but a brush with real pirates is a wake-up call. The boys come up with a plan to get Hoody to quit pirating; however, the plan is shattered when they encounter l’Olonnais and he chooses one of the boys as his protégé.
The ghostly buccaneer doesn’t negotiate with the boys. Besides, he holds a major bargaining chip—Hoody. He gives the boys and hourglass and says, “The sand will run out in three days. You cannot cheat the hourglass or stop it. You have until the sand runs out to return my cutlass. If you do not, your captain dies.” With their father’s life on the line, the journey begins.
Don’t Trust a Pirate or Make Assumptions
If you enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and Goosebumps, you may be surprised that all three series are considered middle grade books. Don’t automatically assume that middle grade means boring and babyish; books are classified that way simply because they lack dirty words, sex, and are a shorter read.
Who doesn’t like a good pirate tale after all? If it’s short enough to read on a plane or train commute—even better. Give Pirates Off the Deep End a try and see what François l’Olonnais is up to.
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