Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Things I would Change in the Bloody Jack Series

I recently finished reading the Bloody Jack series. And while I enjoyed it, I found that there where a few issues that jarred my immersion in the story. Particularly in some of the Later books. So in that spirit here are a list of things that I would like to see changed in the Bloody Jack Series
Needless to say "here there be spoilers" so proceed at your own risk:

1. Jacky should have been born in 1788
This would make her two years older throughout the series and make the whole thing more plausible. The age of menarche declined significantly through the 19th and early 20th century, so a malnourished girl in 1802 would not be getting her period at 13. Yes if you haven't read it yet, this is an important and rather humorous plot point. Add to this that in Mississippi Jack. Jamie is 19 years old, which would have made him 15 -16 in the first book. So if Jacky was twelve this would have been a rather questionable romance.  if she is 14 - 15 it works better. And this applies for all of he romantic interests thereafter.

2. Other ages

If Joannie is eleven in Rapture of the Deep then she should have been eight years old in Under the Jolly Rodger and six when she joined Jacky's old gang.  Daniel should have been ten to eleven years old when he was found in Mississippi Jack. And now not only do they work as a pair, but Jacky works much better in her mother role, as she is now seven years older.

3. Mississippi Jack

The girls should have succeed in distracting the Crew enough for Jacky to escape. This would save Misters Fennel and Bean for Wild Rover No More, so that we don’t end up with the same gambit twice.

4. Rapture of the Deep

Flashby is replaced by Bliffil all the way though. After the big battle he should be retrieved from Key West and make an attempt to kill Jacky, only to be killed by Jamie in turn. When they get back to Boston Ezra should have done his job and stopped Jacky from spending money she is not supposed to have. Yes I feel sorry for Ezra as a character, while we are told he is a very good lawyer, we never actually see him win a case.

As a side note it turns out that the Diving Bell described here is actually a little behind what was possible at the time. In particular inventors in the late 18th century had come up with several ways of supplying fresh air to a submerged bell. This could have let Jacky stay submerged for somewhat longer periods.

5. The Wake of the Lorelei Lee

The first half of this book doesn't happen, the ship is never bought because Ezra makes Jacky see sense. Instead Jacky goes to London to find that Jamie is being tried for the murder of Bliffil. He looses and is transported, as is Ian For unrelated reasons. Then Jacky and Mairead set off in the Nancy B to try to rescue their men from Australia. The visit in India happens, and the later events including Jacky being captured by Ching Shih still happen. She does end up with a captured East Inida company ship given to her by Ching Shih, so the ending is unchanged.

What I really don’t like here is that trip of the Lorelei Lee is actually based on the Lady Juliana, except that its happend in the wrong century, as the Lady Juliana sailed in 1789, and that is the only time that ship carrying only women convicts was sent to Australia. Incidentally Mary Wade, was a real person, and she is quite famous in Australian History. So having her show up 16 years late is a significant change to history.

6. Mark of the Dragon

Jacky's part of the story happens but.  Jamie going mad does not. Instead let him get some nasty illness forcing him to stay in Rangoon while Jacky goes back London to try to clear his name. Back in London Flashby is seducing one of Jamie's sisters. Honestly I was very disappointed in how the sister showed up for one scene and then disappeared never to be heard of again.  Jacky frames him as the highway man to prevent them eloping. Meanwhile the Captured Cerberus is refitted to carry Irish migrants to Boston, paving the Way for the events of Boston Jacky. We still end with Jacky agreeing to work for British Intelligence in exchange for Jamie getting a full pardon.

7. Boston Jacky

She really should be much more capable here, and should not need Ezra to point out trouble at her theater. Havn't we seen her working taverns and running a show boat, where spotting trouble was part of her job? Fighting Pigger should take more effort. And getting a truce from the third fire house as well. While I'm OK with her using the mushroom mix to finally get rid of Pigger, giving it to the Judge was just weird, so lets pretend it didn't happen.

Also assuming that the diving Bell is still on board the Nancy, there is no no need to retcon the ending of Rapture of the Deep. As not only was the cache of treasure left very deep, but the red marker on the mangrove was destroyed by Falco.

When it comes to the hearing regarding her competency as a mother, let Ezra earn his keep by actually winning a court case for a change. The coup de'tat being Amy being called as a witness for the prosecution and supporting Jacky Instead.  Instead of a charge of witchcraft, Jacky should then be tried for the Assault against the leader of the Son's of Boston Firehouse, leading to much the same conclusion.

8. Wild Rover No More

Jacky’s reasoning for why she dosn’t just get on a ship for London at the first opportunity is really weak. Instead she should try and  almost get captured, before falling back to the governess idea.

Also a Seasoned spy would know better then to corrspond with her known associates. She should have instructed Ezra, and gotten Mistress Prim to send the references, and no allowing Amy to write to her.  The entire story should have happened in Plymouth. Yes this needs some extra complications, an unwelcome suitor would fit the general storyline, or indeed even a welcome one.  Instead of being a separate Arc let the circus jsut be a scene, where she is taking Edgar and his sister to see the show, and runs into Gally who blurts out her real name, at which point she has to draw Edgar into her conspiracy. The idea that Gally exposed her location is now plausible.

She is then caught soon after releasing Edgar, and brought back for trial. While awaiting Trial we need to see more evidence of her friends trying to get her off. She should have powerful friends after saving the entire student body of Mistress Primm’s school. Also her dependents really should feature here. Joannie, Daniel and Ravi should at least get a visit, with their adoptive mother.