On Stranger Tides

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On Stranger Tides
First edition cover
Author Tim Powers
Cover artist James Gurney
Country United States
Language English
Genre Historical fantasy
Publisher Ace Books (Hardcover edition)
Publication date
November 1987
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 325
ISBN 978-0-441-62683-0
OCLC 15661924

On Stranger Tides is a 1987 historical fantasy novel written by Tim Powers. It was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel,[1] and placed second in the annual Locus poll for best fantasy novel.[2]

The story was also the inspiration for the Monkey Island video game series by LucasArts and for the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

This book follows the exploits of John "Jack Shandy" Chandagnac, who travels to the new world after the death of his puppeteer father to confront his uncle, who apparently has made off with the family inheritance. During the voyage, he gets to know a woman named Beth Hurwood and her father Benjamin Hurwood, an Oxford professor. Before they arrive, their ship is waylaid by pirates and, with the help of the professor and his assistant, the captain is killed and Chandagnac is forced to join the pirate crew. The reader discovers a sinister plot being concocted by the professor involving his dead wife, his living daughter, the Fountain of Youth, and Blackbeard. Chandagnac, now known as "Jack Shandy," must put a stop to these plans and save Beth Hurwood.


Orson Scott Card, declaring that the novel "is as good as storytelling ever gets," reported that "Powers writes in a clean, elegant style that illuminates without slowing down the tale. The story promises marvels and horrors, and delivers them all."[4] David Langford wrote that On Stranger Tides "immediately hooks you and drags you along in sympathy with one central character's appalling misfortunes on the Spanish Main, [and] escalates from there to closing mega-thrills so determinedly spiced that your palate is left almost jaded."[5]

Jack Adrian, saying that "Tim Powers has further refertilized the Sabatini swashbuckler," described the novel as a skillful blend of "high seas adventure with sorcery and black magic."[6]

Influence on other works[edit]

Kim Newman based the name of a vampire in his Anno Dracula series on the main character of On Stranger Tides.[7]

Although Ron Gilbert has been widely quoted that the Monkey Island series of adventure games was inspired by Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride, he stated in a blog that the ride was mainly his inspiration for the ambience of the series, while his true inspiration was On Stranger Tides.[8][9]

Film adaptation[edit]

On September 11, 2009, Walt Disney Pictures announced that the fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series would be titled Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The announcement had fueled speculation that the film would follow the plot of the novel, since Powers sold the film rights for the novel to Disney.[10] It was also speculated that Jack Sparrow would replace Jack Shandy as the story's protagonist. Powers stated that the Fountain of Youth would definitely be in the film, but Sparrow and Shandy are "totally different characters", and that Hector Barbossa and Blackbeard might overlap.[3]

In January 2010, Disney announced that the film would be released on May 20, 2011. On March 22, 2010, Jerry Bruckheimer confirmed that both Barbossa and Blackbeard would be in the film, with Blackbeard as the villain. Ian McShane portrayed Blackbeard and Penélope Cruz played his daughter, Angelica.[11]


  1. ^ "Science Fiction & Fantasy Books by Award: 1988 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  2. ^ ISFDB bibliography
  3. ^ a b Lesnick, Silas (11 September 2009). "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides & John Carter of Mars Dates!". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Books to Look For," F&SF, April 1988, p.27
  5. ^ David Langford, The Complete Critical Assembly, Wildside Press, 2002, p.221
  6. ^ Jack Adrian, The Fortunes of Casanova, Oxford University Press, 1994, p.xxv
  7. ^ Eckert, Win Scott et al. (2004). "The Anno Dracula Character Guide". The Wold Newton Universe. The Official Philip José Farmer Home Page. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  8. ^ Gilbert, Ron (20 September 2004). "On Stranger Tides". GrumpyGamer. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  9. ^ GameSpot, "Storytime with Ron Gilbert - PAX Australia 2013 Keynote", Ron Gilbert, 7 July 2013, accessed 21 March 2015
  10. ^ "Powers Novel Optioned for New Pirates of the Caribbean Movie". Locus Online. 21 September 2009. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Rosenberg, Adam (22 March 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: 'Pirates 4' Producer Jerry Bruckheimer Confirms Geoffrey Rush Return, Penelope Cruz As Blackbeard's Daughter". MTV Movies Blog. MTV. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 

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