Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Sea Wolves by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon

Jack London was best known for his novels, such as Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, just to name a few. But what if his real-life adventures were even more mind-blowing than his fiction? That question prompted authors Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon to create a series with a supernatural twist, using a young and daring Jack London as the main character.

I first posted about The Secret Journeys of Jack London here at GuysLitWire last year, when the first book, The Wild, was released. The Sea Wolves, the second volume in the series, is just as action-packed as the first, if not moreso. When Jack is taken captive by pirates, he learns there's more to these bloodthirsty creatures than meets the eye...

High seas, fight scenes, renegade scoundrels - The Sea Wolves has all that and more. The action takes place on a boat manned by ruthless men who are revealed to be werewolves. Don't consider this a spoiler, since the cover art and title reveal as much. In contrast to many modern stories in which werewolves are sympathetic characters and/or love interests for the human protagonists, the wolves on board this ship are vicious, selfish, and wild. Each man seems to fully embrace the beast within. They will stop at nothing as they jockey for position in the pack, which is led by a murderous captain known as Ghost.

Re-imagining the life of a historical figure is a great undertaking. Golden and Lebbon have done their research into London's life and the stories he shared, both fictional and biographical, to create something both worthy of the man and engaging for readers. Let's not forget that though London's man vs. the wild novels may come to mind first and foremost, he also wrote The Iron Heel, which was one of the first dystopian novels. (Feel free to consider him to be Katniss's great-grandfather.)

Golden and Lebbon grab readers on page one of The Sea Wolves and hold on to them tightly until the very end. An example of the captivating writing:

A howl danced upon the wind, taken up and redoubled by the storm so that it seemed to echo across the ocean.

A haunting reflection on those who fell victim to the pirates:

 He could picture every one of their faces - the trapper, the woman in her town dress, the man in the broken spectacles - but the one who haunted him most powerfully was the girl with the bow in her hair.

In other words, the role I would play. Sniffle.

In addition to the eye-catching covers, Greg Ruth has also created beautiful black-and-white interior illustrations for this series. Look at the picture of Sabine on page 72. She reminds me of Olivia Wilde there. Sabine, a seer who is trapped on the boat alongside Jack, is a precursor to Firefly/Serenity's River, in a way. Ah, the gift of sight, simultaneously a blessing and a curse. While Lesya in the first volume proved to be untrustworthy, Sabine is someone you want to believe and help, someone you wish the bad guy would stop using as a tool to carry out horrible deeds. She's also the way I can talk people into reading this book who may not be into pirates or historical fiction but are into romance and tragic innocents (and innocence).

So boys, girls, librarians, historians, pirates, landlubbers - Check out The Secret Journeys of Jack London: The Sea Wolves and set sail on the ride of your life!

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