REVIEW of The Prodigal, The Alliance & The Fortune (The Jack Mallory Chronicles #1-3) by S.K. Keogh

ProdigalThirteen-year-old Jack Mallory is en route to America with his parents when their ship is attacked by pirates. Jack’s father is murdered before his eyes, and his own life is only spared when his mother offers herself to the pirate captain, James Logan. What follows is a quest for revenge, eight years in the making. Rescued from the pirates’ brig, Jack is accused of being a pirate himself and ends up spending seven years in Newgate. Released on the cusp of manhood, Jack takes the chance to become a pirate indeed. With the help of an old renegade named Smitth, he gains his own ship and crew in a quest to rescue his mother and revenge himself on James Logan.

Maria Cordero worked alongside her father in a tavern at Tortuga…until James Logan killed him in cold blood. Vowing revenge, Maria teams up with Jack Mallory to overtake the fearsome captain and make him pay for his crimes. But disguising herself as a pirate lad amongst a group of lascivious men isn’t as easy as Maria thinks it will be. And the darkness in Jack only seems to grow as his quest for revenge ravages the friendship between them. Is there any room for love and forgiveness in their lives, or is Jack fated to turn into the very thing he seeks to destroy?

Ella Logan has lived two lives–one with the murdered tanner Benjamin Mallory and another with the plantation owner and pirate James Logan. What begins as captivity with the captain of the pirate ship soon turns into a deeper connection. When she bears her new husband a girl named Helen, the lines between hatred and love become blurred. She has never forgotten her longlost son Jack, but would she abandon her captor James Logan if given the chance?

This action-packed trilogy has the rare quality of completely immersing the reader in the historical world. The hot jungles of the Carolinas and the dirty wharf of Charles Town surround you on shore while the shuddering of the mast and the shriek of the gale fill your ears as you take to the sea. The character of each protagonist and antagonist is gradually unfolded through a series of embedded flashbacks, as secret after secret tantalizes and begs to be revealed.

This saga is not for the faint of heart. The piracy described in the pages of these books is brutal, unflinching, and unremitting. Rape, torture, and casual murder are the order of the day with the brigands under James Logan and Jack Mallory, and while they do have their (flexible) codes of honor, there are no gentlemen pirates like Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood. Even the heroes are villains, and even the villains have something of the heroic in them. Throughout it all, the question is raised: is any act permissible if it is done to protect those that we love?

The three books of the Jack Mallory Chronicles are all pieces of one long saga set in the troubled waters of the seventeenth century. In other words: Bet you can’t read just one….

 

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