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The Legend of the Firefish

by George Bryan Polivka

Reviewed by April Gardner

"By the end, I wondered if Polivka had actually ever “reefed the main four points” or “struck the mizzen” or “hauled sheets” himself, so colorful and detailed were his descriptions of the ship and its workings."

Packer Throme longs to bring prosperity back to his decaying fishing village by discovering the trade secrets of a notorious pirate who hunts the legendary Firefish and sells the rare meat. Armed with the love of a priest’s daughter and a noble purpose, Packer stows away on the ship Trophy Chase bound for sea. But many tests of his faith and his resolve follow.

Will belief and vision be enough for the young man to survive?

--back cover of “The Legend of the Firefish”


Convinced that a good book has a good cover, and “The Legend of the Firefish” having an awesome cover, I was surprised to be thoroughly unimpressed with the first chapter. A young swordsman has it out with a burly fisherman in a seafaring pub. Swords clash and tempers flare—it was definitely a man scene. Written by a man for a man, I thought. Dumping the book on the floor, I groaned, “How am I ever going to get through this book?”

Reluctantly, I picked it up the next day and started at chapter two. From that point on, I could have read straight through to the end without so much as a toilet break, if my children hadn’t asked for dinner…then breakfast.

Over the few days it took me to read it, I walked about wondering if the Firefish was going to eat that deserving witch Talon, if Packer was going to survive the keel hauling, or if poor innocent Panna would realize she was entertaining death. Every spare moment, I poured over the pages of this thrilling adventure, hoping to one day see it on the silver screen.

Talk about a wrong first impression!

Polivka’s tale is set is an imaginary land that resembles our world in the time of the pirates, but in this world sea creatures grow so large they can sink a ship with a single bite. These solitary predatory beasts…are highly desirable—legend has it that the meat of the Firefish bestows considerable powers upon all who consume it. And why is it called a Firefish? Because it emits an electric shock with each bite. Oh yeah, that added an edge to the story.

One of my favorite characters in the book was the Firefish. Sounds odd, I know, but we actually see the world through the beast’s eyes. Polivka does such a fantastic job of giving this behemoth believable thoughts and reasons behind its actions that I hung onto every word.

Unfortunately for Packer, ex-pirate Captain Scat Wilkins, and the rest of the Trophy Chase crew, they didn’t know what the thing was thinking, especially when it lunged into the air reaching for a Packer-snack in the crow’s nest…think he made it?

How to collect its meat was the number one question on everyone’s mind. The secret was finally revealed, but only after thousands of bloodthirsty Achawak warriors had flooded their decks and twenty Firefish had laid chase to them. It’s one hair-raising experience after another with Packer, and even his love Panna, delicate and sweet, gets into her own mess of trouble.

By the end, I wondered if Polivka had actually ever “reefed the main four points” or “struck the mizzen” or “hauled sheets” himself, so colorful and detailed were his descriptions of the ship and its workings. He certainly educated himself well on all things ship and pirate related. His hard work paid off with a vivid setting.

Polivka pulled out an old writing style, dusted it off, and gave it a new spin. In each scene, he “head-hops” moving from one character’s point of view to another’s so that the reader knows what everyone is thinking at all times. It threw me for a loop at first, but I really grew to enjoy it. Only once or twice did the change catch me off guard, forcing me to go back several paragraphs and reread with the new character in mind. For the most part, the changes were seamless.

“The Legend of the Firefish” has soared straight to the top of my list of top ten favorite books, and I anxiously await the July 2007 release of the second in the series. I hear it’s even better than the first!

~ excerpt from the book in italics

April GardnerApril W Gardner writes adult and middle grade historical fiction. Her first novel, Wounded Spirits, releases with Vintage Romance Publishing in November of this year. She is a member of ACFW and reviews for Title Trakk, At Home With Christian Fiction, and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tours. A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her darling Hubby. A homeschool mom, she fills her mornings talking fractions and phonics with her two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian. Visit April's Website or her blog, A Writer's Journey. You can also get to know April on Facebook and Twitter.