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Extract
You never forget the first attack. I was cotton mouthed and terrified, standing at the ready, waiting to hear the two ships grind and splinter together. The waiting is the worst of it. I've seen strong men turn pale as putty, and dash to the heads to relieve themselves, or vomit over the side. No-one makes any comment. No-one mocks or jeers at them, even these men who seem to laugh in the face of death itself. They stare straight ahead, gripping weapons and grappling hooks, half pikes, axes and hatchets. Sometimes, Broom ordered drums and cymbals to add to the clamour, or the cannons fired, filling the air with the reek of powder, so we boarded through blinding billows of smoke. Once on the prize, then it was different. Our own fear did not compare with the terror we instilled in the ordinary crew and passengers. We would board with reckless boldness, and if the prize offered resistance, it was kill or be killed.

I stood with Minerva as our first fight came, pistols primed and slung about me, my cutlass honed and as sharp as a razor, my axe hanging heavy from my belt. I could not keep my legs from shaking, my knuckles were white from gripping the rail, but Minerva had a stillness about her, her features as calm and expressionless as if they had been carved from ironwood. I'd seen the look before, on the faces of Phillis and Thomas and the other slaves when confronted by Duke in his fury. It was not resignation, more a refusal to show any reaction to whatever fate was about to enfold her. I was green and sick with nervousness. She put her hand on mine to steady me, whispering through the cannon's roar.

'We will watch out for each other. We will not be afraid.'

We leapt the gap between the ships together, ready to fight and die for each other.


  • "This swashbuckling adventure features all of the elements of a grand pirate tale: sword fights, duels, charming rogues, true love, murder, and the odd severed head. The narration is well paced and engrossing, giving readers a strong feel for the times without bogging down in detailsÂ…this is a rip-roaring adventure with an engaging female heroine." - starred review, School Library Journal

  • "...a gifted writer of historical fiction for YAs: she is especially good at creating strong, intelligent female characters who escape from the worst woes of their times. Rees makes this world of pirates absolutely real. Amid the appealing adventures are serious considerations of the plight of slaves and women. Rees is a good researcher who gets the historical details right."- starred review, KLIATT

  • "Pirates! by Celia Rees is brilliant, fabulous, unputdownable...Rees' themes are those of great literature. Rees encompasses in her novel not only the ethics of the slave trade but racism and the position of women in society. These themes and issues give the book the feel of an adult novel but when combined with the all-pervading sense of adventure and a dash of romance the end result is deeply satisfying." - Olivia Dickinson, Books for Keeps

  • "This book is bold, brutal, and brilliant." bilgemunky.com http://www.bilgemunky.com/reviews/books/pirates_rees.html