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L. A. Meyer – The Mark of the Golden Dragon

November 30, 2011

146. The Mark of the Golden Dragon: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea by L. A. Meyer (2011)
Bloody Jack, Book 9

Length: 378 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Started: 06 November 2011
Finished: 08 November 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I love a good sea story, and the Jacky Faber series is addictive fun.

It’ll take more than
a typhoon to drown a girl
who’s destined to hang.

Summary: Jacky Faber’s friends and shipmates all think she’s dead, but even being washed overboard during a typhoon won’t keep Jacky down for long. She’s soon braved tigers and kidnappers and made her way to the busy city of Rangoon. But Jaimy has taken her death quite hard, and has returned to England, swearing bloody vengence on the two men he feels are responsible for Jacky’s transportation to Australia. Jacky follows him back to England, and despite being a wanted criminal herself, manages to inveigle her way into all sorts of society yet again. But will she be in time to save Jaimy from himself?

Review: On the one hand, the Jacky Faber novels are fun, quick reads, with plenty of action and adventure and sailing ships and a supremely sassy narrator. On the other hand, this is the ninth book in the series, and the charm is starting to wear a little thin. They’re a little repetitive and formulaic at times, although that’s not really what bothers me. (In fact, the fact that they’re a little formulaic makes them perfect for times when I need a fast, fun read that’s solidly enjoyable and is not going to tax my brain too much.) And I did enjoy The Mark of the Golden Dragon well enough; it’s fast, funny, and full of action, just as expected (although sadly, not much naval action post-typhoon. I always like the books where Jacky’s on a boat much better than the ones where Jacky’s mostly on land.)

I think the main reason that this book didn’t quite charm me the way previous installments did is that the books aren’t maturing along with their heroine… and, more to the point, while Jacky’s aging, she doesn’t seem to be maturing much either. She’s much the same as she was in the early books in the series, but behavior that was brash and reckless and charming on a fourteen-year-old reads as brash and reckless and obnoxious on a twenty-something-year-old. I’m not sure what the solution is, since Meyer isn’t upping the reading level of the books as he goes, and there wouldn’t be much of a series if Jacky settled down and acted her age. Maybe the solution is that the next time I need a fun naval adventure story, I should just start the series over again instead of waiting for a new installment. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: The series as a whole, particularly the first four books, is great, and should be read by anyone who likes the Age of Sail and spunky narrators. The Mark of the Golden Dragon is not the best in the series, but is fun enough to make for an entertaining afternoon’s read.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Shelf Life
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First Line: My name is Jacky Faber and I am – by the grace of God, of Neptune, and of all the lesser gods – Owner and Captain of the Lorelei Lee, possibly the most beautiful brigantine bark ever to sail the seven seas.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 76: “And to top it all off, we bought what would prove to be a great little moneymaker – a simple wooden flute. It had eight holes and a fipple mouthpiece and a sort of bold at the end, and though it was not tuned to the same scale as my beloved pennywhistle, I was able to make it work.” – a plug stopping the upper end of a pipe, as a recorder or a whistle, and having a narrow slit through which the player blows.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2011 1:32 pm

    I listened to the first book through audio, so I really want to continue doing that for the rest of the series. Unfortunately I am terrible at listening to audio books, so it is taking me a while!

    • December 2, 2011 10:24 am

      Kailana – I haven’t tried these on audio, but if the narrator’s good, I can imagine that being a lot of fun!

  2. November 30, 2011 11:07 pm

    I’ve also been following Jacky through the whole series, and they’re always a fun read…this one was not one of the highlights of the series though. I enjoy her endless mishaps, but this particular one felt unfocused. It was too much a series of catastrophes without any continuous thread. And when her men started complaining that their plan was far-fetched and unnecessarily complicated…yeah, I think they had a point.

    For what it’s worth on Jacky acting her age, I’m pretty sure she’s still late-teens. I looked up a timeline on Meyer’s website and was shocked by how young she’s actually supposed to be in some of the books…it’s a very compressed timeline in some places.

    • December 2, 2011 10:27 am

      Cheryl – I went and looked at the timeline, and you’re right, I was overestimating Jacky’s age. (I think I was basing it on her once or twice talking about someone that I thought was 15 or 16 as if they were a little kid.) Even so, I think my point stands: an 18-year-old can’t always get away with the same behavior as a 14-year-old, and Jacky’s experienced enough to have grown out of it, at least a little.

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