Paizo, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-60125-523-5
Torius Vin is the charming and dashing – or so the author would like me to believe – pirate captain. He and the crew of the Stargazer lay claim to a kind of morality that makes it so convenient for readers who wish to root for them and still sleep with a clear conscience at night: they apparently don’t do slavery and their victims here are portrayed as big meanies. Torius is hot and sexy, so every woman wants him, apparently, but he wants only Celeste, the naga navigator.
Now, if you are up to date in your fantasy lore, you may know that a naga is a snake-like humanoid – no arms, no legs, but lots of scales. But since Celeste drinks a potion that allows her to transform into human form for the hot boinking, I guess this is different from bestiality? Still, I doubt nagas will be replacing elves anytime soon as skinny non-human wretches that nerds want to shag the most.
So, Torius and his gang manage to steal a priceless treasure, but they are attacked on their way back to the person that hired them for the gig. Tracing the attack to a powerful merchant, they plot a Mission: Impossible-style plot to infiltrate, instigate, and cheat this merchant of the money they believe they are owed. Celeste is asked to play the femme fatale, but to her dismay, she soon realizes that she may like their target a bit more than is wise.
Pirate’s Honor is a notable story, not only for its official endorsement of human-snake sex, but also in that it actually a reflection of Celeste’s dilemma, not Torius’s. I never expected this, given how Torius is front and center in the synopsis on the back cover, but then again, I should have known better than to buy these things wholesale. Torius is just one of the many bland one-dimensional characters in this story. He also has a rather eye-rolling tendency to treat women, including Celeste, in a pretty patronizing manner. Torius’s Madonna/Whore complex is on full display too. Women are either goddesses or harlots, and while his chubby stands at attention for them all, he thinks harlots are, well, harlots deserving of his full contempt.
Interestingly, Celeste and a secondary female character initially cast as a villain end up becoming the more well-developed characters here. Unfortunately, Celeste is interesting only in comparison to the flat stereotypes around her. Celeste’s desire to be loved and accepted is the driving force of the story that sees her feeling conflicted about her mark, but the author fails to treat this theme in a manner remotely resembling any kind of adult maturity. Celeste is either “JEALOUS!!!!!” of any woman sniffing after Torius or “SADDDDDD!!!” that she has to be mean to other guys who are sweet to her. It also doesn’t help that the author has Celeste being very wrong in the end, so that Torius is Celeste’s Mr Right by default, as this development negates any distance Celeste made in her voyage of self-discovery.
Pirate’s Honor could have been a good story, but it just isn’t meant to be as the author handles the themes of loyalty, love, and loneliness in a way that will most likely not appeal to anyone over the age of seventeen. And then there are action scenes that seem to be nothing more than fillers generated by a random encounter die roll. File this one as one missed opportunity.