Isle of Fire

Our rating: ****

Declan Ross and his daughter Anne have left piracy behind and now work for the Royal Navy as pirate hunters. Their former, amnesic crew mate, Cat, has stayed behind in a monastery of treasure-guarding monks. All seems somewhat peaceful, now that Bartholomew Thorne is dead—or is he? A devious scheme to attack England takes shape, drawing Cat, Anne, and Ross into a battle that could change the course of history.

There’s no doubt about it. Wayne Thomas Batson was born to write pirate books. Most of the characters are quite deep, especially Cat, who was very well done. In the style of Brian Jacques, Batson writes a powerful story that zips along faster than a merchant clipper. My only real problem is with the possible historical inaccuracy of an attack on England, but this is fiction, after all. Although I preferred Isle of Swords, this is definitely a worthy successor.

Isle of Swords

Our rating: ****½

It all starts when Declan Ross, captain of the William Wallace, and his headstrong daughter Anne take on a badly injured boy who has no memory of his previous life. As time goes on, the truth about a great treasure, long believed lost, is revealed. Hidden by a mysterious order of monks, this treasure must be reclaimed—and Declan Ross is the one to do it. Perilous dangers await in the journey, and Bartholomew Thorne, the most dreaded pirate on the high seas, is determined to find the treasure first. So begins a deadly race to the Isle of Swords with more at stake than first meets the eye.

Despite a few flaws, I was quite impressed with this book. A great page-turner, memorable characters, and many intricate subplots. I debated whether to mark this for ages 13+, like the other Wayne Thomas Batson books we’ve reviewed, or to bump it up to 15+. I will leave it at 13+ with a warning: Bartholomew Thorne is not a nice fellow, and he does not treat his prisoners kindly. Nothing was overly vivid, but it had me grimacing on several occasions. So do take that into consideration.
Also, I was under the impression that Isle of Swords was a stand-alone book. Be forewarned! I raced through the climax right to the end where the story is left at a cliffhanger. While the main plot is resolved, many mysterious puzzles are left unsolved. All that to say, I’ll be watching for Isle of Fire, the sequel.