I bet you thought I was done with talking about The Windflower by Laura London. But how could I be done when I have not yet talked about Rand Morgan, Pirate Extraordinaire?
I loved the sheer over-the-top pirateness of Rand’s characterization.
Rand Morgan. They say he wore an emerald slit from the belly of a priest when that unfortunate divine had swallowed it to prevent its theft. Ten years ago the Queen Anne had disappeared without a trace, and whispers said that Morgan had seized a fortune in bullion from her hold and then locked her captain and crew in the first mate’s cabin, setting the decks ablaze and leaving the men inside to a flaming grave. And just last October the Black Joke had seized an unarmed merchant ship and taken from it the governor of South Carolina and his five-year-old son, holding them at cost of their lives until the governor’s distraught wife had gathered a ransom of fifteen thousand dollars.
This is how Merry, the narrator, sees him.
He was tall enough to have to stoop slightly as he entered, and he had black, heavy-lidded, deep-set eyes, which looked around the room seeing no one, seeing everyone, intense and sleepy at the same time. The face was impassive, as if carved in stone, with heavy cheekbones and a broad brow; it was a face made to split the sea air and crash the waves of fortune’s hurricane. His long hair was midnight black, thick and unruly on his brow, and of the same hue as his silk shirt. There was an aura about him—an air of the craftsman, one whose mastery of certain skills made him indifferent to the judgments of the uninitiated. That is what frightened Merry the most—his indifference. He didn’t look evil, only as if he did not care.
One might be forgiven for assuming he will become the hero of the piece…alas, you would be wrong. He never even gets a secondary-plot romance, which is a great pity because he’s such a wonderfully ambiguous characters. His morality is dubious for a large portion of the novel, and even though he’s eventually revealed to be a privateer rather than an out-and-out pirate, it’s clear that he occasionally slips to the side of lawlessness. It’s also unclear, at first anyway, whether he purchased the boy Cat from a brothel to be his love slave (he didn’t) or whether he is willing to kill the heroine, Merry (he doesn’t kill her).
I would be quite willing to read a sequel featuring Rand; preferably Cat would be in the story, too, unless he was off having his own adventures in another sequel. Except…I think Rand would lose a lot of his edge were he in a romantic relationship. It would take some work for me to find him just as intriguing as he is in The Windflower while at the same time making me feel sympathetic towards his relationship. And of course, a very special heroine would be required. Preferably, she would be a pirate, too. Though a time-traveling FBI agent might be acceptable. Or a woman who fought in the American Revolution, dressed as a man. Or….
I still haven’t decided who would be suitable as “fantasy casting” for Rand Morgan. Any suggestions?