Wake of the Bloody Angel by Alex Bledsoe

“Twenty years ago, a barmaid in a harbor town fell for a young sailor who turned pirate to make his fortune. But what truly became of Black Edward Tew remains a mystery—one that has just fallen into the lap of freelance sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse.

For years, Eddie has kept his office above Angelina’s tavern, so when Angelina herself asks him to find out what happened to the dashing pirate who stole her heart, he can hardly say no—even though the trail is two decades old. Some say Black Edward and his ship, The Bloody Angel, went to bottom of the sea, taking with it a king’s fortune in treasure. Others say he rules a wealthy, secret pirate kingdom. And a few believe he still sails under a ghostly flag with a crew of the damned.

To find the truth, and earn his twenty-five gold pieces a day, Eddie must take to sea in the company of a former pirate queen in search of the infamous Black Edward Tew…and his even more legendary treasure.”

When I first started reading this series, I remember thinking that the language is a little anachronistic.  What I’ve realized in the interim is that readers shouldn’t necessarily think of this as a fantasy novel with a mystery in it; rather, it’s more of a mystery novel in a fantasy setting.  When I made that change in my reading, the language didn’t really bother me.  No, it’s not quite on par with a medieval-style world, but it fits in with the type of story Bledsoe is telling.

The characters are similarly down to earth.  This isn’t a novel where you’re going to get the extremes of heroism or villainy.  What you get are real people, albeit transposed into a fantasy world.  Eddie and the other characters are fallible human beings, making mistakes and struggling with their own issues just like any of us.  Even so, there are surprising moments of humanity, gentleness and kindness that make readers think of these characters as good people—not just characters, but as good people that we’d all like to know in person.

And speaking of characters… ah, Jane, how I adore thee.  The pirate queen turned privateer who helps Eddie in his quest is a bundle of energy and sass.  She gets some great lines, holds her own on a ship full of men, and commands respect from those in the book and readers alike.  Out of all the personalities in this novel, she’s the one that I’d love to meet the most.

The thing that I’ve enjoyed about this series, and this book in particular, is how Bledsoe can weave an intricate plot with tons of details and red herrings and have it all work out in a realistic way.  It doesn’t always wrap up neatly, but it does wrap up in a way that you could see happening in real life.  Yes, fantasy is escapist, but make it too fantastic and you really can’t relate.  I found this novel’s ending to be satisfying—not full of fireworks and heroics and derring-do, but satisfying.  And frankly, I like that more than fireworks.

Wake of the Bloody Angel is another stellar example of Alex Bledsoe’s writing.  This book is fun, full of adventure and witty dialogue, and thoroughly enjoyable.  If I could pull Eddie, Jane and the others out of the book, I’d buy them a drink and pump them for stories of their exploits.  Alas, all we can do is wait for another Eddie novel and hope that it’s not too long in the making.

This review was originally posted on August 22, 2012.

This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

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