Review: Hunt for White Gold by Mark Keating

I usually don’t read anything else but Fantasy, but Historical Fiction comes close enough. I originally read this book by Mark Keating as an English assignment (I have an oral exam about it next week) and decided that this genre might not be so bad. I bought the book during my minor’s introduction trip to Oxford in Waterstones. Here’s my review of Hunt for White Gold.


Patrick Devlin has only been a pirate for a year now, but already commands a hundred men and is master of the frigate Shadow. He’s tossed into an unwanted adventure when his quartermaster, Peter Sam, is kidnapped and the only way to get Peter back is to obey the villain Ignatius. Devlin is forced to set sail and search for letters containing the well-kept secret of the Chinese art of making porcelain. To obtain these letters he needs to navigate to New Providence, while trying to stay out of trouble. But trouble follows Devlin as Ignatius sends out the infamous Blackbeard, Edward Teach, on the very same mission. And Blackbeard has an axe to grind with Devlin. As do Seth Toomb and John Coxon, his former masters.


The writing style in this book threw me off at first, because of the way the characters’ dialog was written. There were a lot of grammatical errors – which represents the pirates’ way of speaking excellently, of course – and I wasn’t used to that. But in the end I got used to it and came to see the appeal of it. The story itself is told from a lot of different points of view with Devlin’s being the main point of view. This was also very surprising, because I’m used to different points of view, just not so many.

This novel caught my eye in Oxford, mainly because of the cover (a man with a shotgun in his hand). My immediate thought was ‘Pirates!’ and as I read the blurb on the back, my eye fell on the name Edward Teach – Blackbeard. That was enough for me to pick up the book and decide it was what I wanted to read for my second book report.

My interest in pirates began with the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie – my second favorite movie franchise after The Lord of the Rings – and only deepened after becoming a die-hard fan of the anime One Piece. One Piece is also about pirates, though the main characters are ‘good’ pirates, but they’ve all captured my heart. I’ve been reading the manga and watching the anime since 2007.

Devlin is as much of a witty anti-hero as is Captain Jack Sparrow. The camaraderie of his crew also reminded me of the franchise. The character Blackbeard pushed my thoughts towards One Piece. You see; the funny thing about One Piece is that most main characters are based on real pirates. But they’ve split Blackbeard into two people: Blackbeard and Whitebeard. Whitebeard’s name is Edward Newgate while Blackbeard’s name is Marshall Teach. So whenever I read the name Edwards, I’d picture Whitebeard – who was the cooler character and much more loved. But when I read Teach, I’d think of Blackbeard – who is one of the villains of One Piece.

I enjoyed the book a lot, not just because it reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean and One Piece, but also because it really felt like I was in that era. It felt authentic and raw. And it was. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever really read Historical Fiction before. I’ve read a lot of history books about the Greeks, Romans, Celts and other cultures, but that’s not the same thing. Those are facts, not fiction. So I must conclude that I know too little of this genre to be able to say anything significant or insightful about the genre itself or how the novel fits the genre.




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