Gwen & Kate's Library

Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.

Gwen’s Thoughts on The Mark of the Golden Dragon by L.A. Meyer

I’ve been putting this review off for quite a bit, but with the So Behind! Review-A-Thon Challenge I’m participating in, it’s finally time. The Mark of the Golden Dragon is the ninth book in the Bloody Jack Adventures series, and at this point there isn’t much to say about the book that hasn’t already been said in the previous eight reviews. 

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Series: The Bloody Jack Adventures, Book 9 (Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea)

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance, Adventure, Humor

Format: Audiobook, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren!

Rating: 4 stars

Description:

Jacky Faber, soldier, sailor, spy, and sometime pirate, condemned for life to the English prison colony in Australia for high crimes against the Crown, has once again wriggled out of the grasp of British authorities. Back on her flagship, the Lorelei Lee, she happily heads back to England in the company of dear friends and her beloved Jaimy Fletcher.

However, due to a typhoon, an earthquake, tidal waves, pirates, and her own impetuous nature, Jacky is cast into a world of danger that extends from the South China Sea to the equally treacherous waters of politics in London’s smoky dens of intrigue, deception, and betrayal.

Can she save herself from recapture and a final trip to the gallows? Can she also save her own dear Jaimy from the madness that seems to be overtaking his tortured mind? Devious Chinese businessmen, willowy Eurasian maidens, fierce Gurkhas, loyal friends, and wildly romantic highwaymen are all involved in this tale of love, courage, and redemption.

Review:

I’ve been putting this review off for quite a bit, but with the So Behind! Review-A-Thon Challenge I’m participating in, it’s finally time. The Mark of the Golden Dragon is the ninth book in the Bloody Jack Adventures series, and at this point there isn’t much to say about the book that hasn’t already been said in the previous eight reviews.

The Mark of the Golden Dragon is told in at least two main segments, much like some of the other books in the series. The first part follows Jacky and Ravi in the forests of China, where they have been stranded after a typhoon at sea. This part is not my favorite, but the scene quickly changes and takes Jacky back to England, where Jaimy Fletcher has gone mad with grief at the loss of his Jacky (believed dead after being thrown overboard during the typhoon).

Something specific that I love about this series is the combination of fiction, history, and literature. In The Mark of the Golden Dragon, Jaimy Fletcher turns into highwayman, based off the main character in Alfred Noyes’s poem “The Highwayman.” Bess, the landlord’s black-eyed daughter also plays a part.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.

He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.   

He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   

But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter, 

         Bess, the landlord’s daughter, 

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

(From “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes)

It was purely by chance that I recognized this reference, having heard this poem many times during the Forensics (as in speech and not science) Club tournaments I participate in, reading poetry. I loved being able to understand a connection between Jacky’s world and other literary or historical references. What is interesting about this example is that “The Highwayman” wasn’t published until 1906, so it doesn’t even take place in the same time Jacky is living in, but the stories combine nicely nonetheless. I wonder how many of this sort of allusions I have been missing, just assuming it is all fiction and a part of Jacky’s original tale.

Another thing I love about the Bloody Jack series as a whole is the unique style of writing L.A. Meyer uses. The story is told through Jacky’s eyes in first person, with frequent letters thrown in, mostly to and from Jaimy. Every once in a while, Jacky will tell of an event in a sort of flashback, remembering method. For example, she will be sitting in the bath, then reminisce about the previous evening, and in that way the reader learns what happened then.

In addition, there are many little phrases that are repeated word for word many times, which some might find annoying, but I think suits Jacky’s personality and makes sense in the story. These are mainly things that Jacky says about herself, such as “I’m so very hard on my friends” and “I’m not exactly shy in that regard.”

Jacky’s next story is told in Viva Jacquelina!, which takes her to Spain, where she poses for a famous artist, runs with bulls, is captured by the Spanish Inquisition, and roams with the Roma (also called gypsies). And only a month to go until the final book in the series, Wild Rover No More, is released!

(This review is a part of the So Behind! Review-A-Thon Challenge.)

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This entry was posted on October 12, 2014 by in Author: Gwen, Review, Young Adult and tagged , , , .
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