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Pirate Speak and Religious Themes in “The Fiddler’s Gun”

Pirate Speak and Religious Themes in “The Fiddler’s Gun” post image

Life got in the way this weekend and I couldn’t participate in Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon. My friend Amanda came to town to look for apartments next year, which took most of Saturday. Luckily, we did find a great place close to where I live now that has a nook area, wood floors, a decorative fireplace, and built in bookshelves. It’s awesome. I can’t wait to move in August and share pictures.

I did get some time reading in the afternoon and this morning — enough time to finish The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson, which I’m reading as part of Kate and Amy’s Book Club (a Facebook group event). It’s a historical fiction novel about a young woman named Fin Button living at an orphanage in Georgia during the Revolutionary War.

Fin doesn’t really fit into the mold the Sisters who run the orphanage hope she’ll fit into. Trying to mold her into a respectable young woman, they assign her kitchen duty with Brother Bart, a mysterious older man with a checkered past and a gift for cooking and fiddling. Fin also has her fiancé, Peter, a fellow orphan apprenticing with a local carpenter, who building a home from him and Fin. As the War hits the area, Fin finds herself forced to flee from her home, alone, and build a new life out at sea.

This was a great book to sit down and read because it’s so entertaining. I liked the storyline of this book — all the drama and pirates and war issues were interesting. And Fin is just a fun young woman to read about — feisty and determined, while also being impetuous and prone to making mistakes. It was a book that I didn’t want to put down because I really wanted to know what happened.

One issue I had with the book were the men Fin joins up with at sea. I liked them as characters, but they were a little to stereotypically pirate-y, if that makes sense. Their dialogue, in particular, was just a little bit to cheesy. Take this, for example:

“Turn your course or throw ye overboard. My way lies through the bosom of that yonder black and weeping mistress!”

There were more, but of course I can’t find them now. Anyway, the sailor dialogue was funny, but just a little bit too much for me given how well the rest of the book is written.

My other reaction to the book had to do with some of the religious themes present. As I read, I couldn’t tell if the story was supposed to be some sort of Christian allegory, and if so, what the message of the story was supposed to be suggesting. Of course, I can’t write about this more without spoilers, so stop reading if that’s a problem.

The rest of this post contains spoilers for The Fiddler’s Gun, so stop reading if that bugs you.

For real!

The thing with trying to grapple with some of the religious ideas in this book is that most of the allusions go past me. These are some ideas I’m excited to talk about these things with the online book club, but mostly just need to write them out to get some things straight and see what other people think.

  • Most obviously, the story takes place at a Christian orphanage, and the first big event of the story is building a new chapel. With the new chapel, a famous religious speaker comes to the orphanage and gives a sermon discussing sin, rebirth, and being chosen.
  • A pretty common question in the book is the idea of being chosen — that God chooses everyone regardless of background. Fin has a hard time understanding this because she’s been abandoned her whole life, and doesn’t find much solace in this idea of God at all.
  • Bart, a former pirate, converted to Christianity after seeing a local preacher. When Bart kills the soldiers who tried to rape Fin, he give himself up to the British Army as a criminal. He talks repeatedly about how giving himself up is “standing up” and that doing the noble thing means to stand up.
  • Peter, Fin’s fiancé, is a carpenter. Throughout the story, Fin talks about how Peter is the only person she feels like has every chosen to be with her. Is Peter supposed to be like God or Jesus or something like that?
  • Fin has a tendency to flee into the wilderness for comfort when something traumatic happens to her. After she kills the six soldiers, she flees to the woods for real. Isn’t there some sort of religious implication to that?

There are a lot of things, mostly small word choices and implications, that kept me wondering about the religious themes in the story and how we were supposed to read them. I’m not sure what I think yet, but I’m anxious to see how other people interpret these characters and some of their actions.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Bottom Line: Despite some critiques of dialogue and questions about the religious themes, I enjoyed reading this book and am looking forward to reading the sequel.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) April 12, 2010, 8:07 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed it – I’m not sure it’s the book for me, though.

    • Kim April 15, 2010, 7:40 am

      bermudonion: To each his own — I liked the book for the most part but I can see cases where it wouldn’t work (especially if the stuff I didn’t love seems more annoying to you than me).

  • Jenny April 13, 2010, 10:59 am

    Wait, that’s now how pirates really talked? 😛

    • Kim April 15, 2010, 7:40 am

      Jenny: Ha ha, I suppose 🙂

  • A. S. Peterson April 14, 2010, 6:14 pm

    Thanks for the review, Kim. It’s always interesting to hear people’s reactions and how they’ve interpreted different things.

    I’ll leave the thematic discussion to the book club but I did want to chime in and say that while the ‘pirate-speak’ might not ring true to some ears (and I can’t argue that), that it is fairly authentic. I read a great deal of historical ‘pirate-speak’ when researching the book and was amazed by how complex and flowery it is. I tried to tone it down considerably to make it believable and purposefully made sure I never used cliches like ‘avast’ or ‘shiver me timbers’ or ‘argh’. It’s one of those cases where, like a lot of events in the book, the truth is stranger than fiction

    Sorry it didn’t work for you but thanks for reading and reviewing 🙂

    • Kim April 15, 2010, 7:43 am

      A.S. Peterson: Interesting, thanks for sharing that info about the pirate talk. I guess I never looked into it before, but as I read it just seemed like too much. But of course I’ve never read historical pirate writing, so I wouldn’t know. I’ll definitely keep that in mind as we keep chatting about the book in the book club.