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On Stranger Tides (novel)

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This article is non-canon.
This article covers a subject that has been deemed non-canon by either the author or the Pirates of the Caribbean licensees, and thus should not be taken as a part of the "real" Pirates of the Caribbean world.

OST American cover

Tim Powers

Cover artist

James Gurney

Publication information:

Ace Books (Hardcover edition)
Babbage Press (Paperback edition)

Reading level



November 1987

Media type

Print (Hardback & Paperback)




6.6 x 4.2 x 1 inches

Shipping weight

4.8 ounces


ISBN-10: 0-246-13152-7

"Join us, wholly adopt our goals as your own, or be killed right now where you stand."
―Philip Davies[src]

On Stranger Tides is a novel written by Tim Powers. Published in 1987, it was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and placed second in the annual Locus poll for best fantasy novel.

Although Ron Gilbert has been widely quoted that the Monkey Island video game series was inspired by the Disneyland attraction Pirates of the Caribbean, he stated in a blog that the ride was mainly his inspiration for the ambience of the series, while his true inspiration was Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides.[1]

After the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney approached Powers in optioning his novel, which would be used as the inspiration, basis, and title for the fourth installment of the Pirates series.

Publisher's Summary

Puppeteer John Chandagnac, who was sailing to Jamaica to get revenge on the uncle who had stolen his father's inheritance, has no choice but to join the buccaneers who have taken him prisoner—and soon, known now as the pirate "Jack Shandy", he finds himself learning to survive in a treacherous new world of cutlass-fights, sea-battles, and voodoo magic on sun-blinded tropical islands. The legendary Blackbeard, a child of voodoo whose spirit is infested with ghosts, is assembling an empire of ruthless navy of pirates, living and undead, to voyage to the fabled Fountain of Youth, and Jack Shandy must use magic, swordsmanship, and even his puppeteer skills to free himself and the girl he has fallen in love with from Blackbeard's deadly supernatural domination.


A Voyage to Jamaica

"Captives, I am Philip Davies, the new captain of this ship."
―Phil Davies to the crew of the Carmichael.[src]

The story begins with John Chandagnac as he gazes upon Jamaica on the horizon. He plans to seek justice upon his uncle, Sebastian Chandagnac, who stole his late father's money. John had a close relationship with his father for they traveled Europe performing their puppet show. Upon the ship, he meets Elizabeth Hurwood who is the daughter of an eccentric scientist, Benjamin Hurwood. Jack finds Beth to be very polite, in spite of her medications that keep her pale and quiet.

As John and Beth converse, a pirate sloop appears. Thinking that the ship he was on, the Vociferous Carmichael, a well-armed merchant vessel, would be able to stand against the pirates, Jack assures Beth that they will be safe. Unfortunatley, panic erupts on the deck as Benjamin Hurwood and his friend and Beth's doctor, Leo Friend, proceed to shoot at the crew of the Carmichael. Apparently, this was the plan all along. After the chaos, Benjamin, Leo and the pirates took the ship.

The pirate captain, Philip Davies, talked to the remains of the captured crew. He told the men that they had a choice to row back to Jamaica or stay with them and live as pirates. When learning that the pirates plan to take the Carmichael, the captain of the now stolen ship, Captain Chaworth, rose to save it. Davies quickly dispatched him but then John attack Davies to avenge Chaworth. After injuring the pirate captain's hand, John is forced to join the pirates. Beth stays with her father as the pirates sail to New Providence.

New Providence

"This here's Jack Shandy. He's the cook."
―Phil Davies to his crew.[src]

John arrives in New Providence and is disturbed by the pirates and their lawless lifestyle. Here he mets a cast of characters such as Skank, a young, dark, toothless pirate, Venner, a sun burnt red-headed rouge, and Mr. Bird, a big pirate who keeps repeating "I'm not a dog" for no reason. John also meets a few stranger figures such as an old man who the pirates call 'Govener Sawney'.

On the beaches of New Providence, the pirates call upon John to entertain them. After making marionettes out of driftwood, John performs a raunchy skit. The pirates call out suggestions of how the performance should end, making the skit change pace several times. After the performance, the pirates become hungry and rowdy. Using his collected knowledge of European cooking he got from his travels, John prepared a chicken dinner. The pirates, once satisfied with their meal, dub John as their cook.

After dinner, John was given a bottle of wine from Davies. Together, they talked about how John was forever condemned to a life of piracy. After a long talk, Davies rechristened John Chandagnac to Jack Shandy, as the pirates couldn't pronounce his last name.

A Voyage to Florida

"The hunsi kanzo will have us all for zombies if we back off now-but in going on all we risk is death."
―Hodge to the crew of the Jenny[src]

After converting the Carmichael into a pirate ship, Davies' crew sets sails to Florida for a meeting with the infamous pirate Blackbeard. Shandy sails on the Jenny, Davies' sloop, now captained by Davies' quartermaster Hodge. A few days into the journey, the pirate ships encounter the Royal Navy Man-of-war.

The Carmichael sails away freely leaving the Jenny alone and vunerable. Davies, not wanting to lose his previous ship, orders the crew to turn around and help their crewmates. Sadly, Leo Friend, not wanting to be late to Blackbeard's meeting shot Davies in the arm, belaying his orders and commanded the ship to sail on.

Meanwhile, the Jenny went under heavy attacks from the massive Man-of-War. Shandy at this point is visibly afraid and doesn't know if it is better to commit a crime by slaying the navy sailors or help his crew to save his own skin. The melee was soon ended by the officers capturing the pirates. Once captured, Shandy tells the captain of the Man-of-War, Captain Sam Wilson, that he is an innocent man and doesn't belong with the pirates. After his story is cleared, Captain Wilson orders Shandy to come below with him leaving the cluster of angry pirates behind.

Some of the sailors then rescue the wounded Davies and bring him into Wilson's cabin for questioning. Inside, Davies is able to bait Wilson making him think that he knows some dark information about him. This prompts Wilson to shoot Davies rather than facing punishment for his secret crimes. Luckily, Shandy knocks the pistol away and grabs another pistol this time firing it at the naval captain's head.

Thinking on their feet, the two pirates come up with a plan. They yelled through the close door that Davies was shot and the captain was injured. From here they force a midshipmen to help Shandy carry body of Wilson (while the sailors believe it is Davies) on deck while Davies sets explosives in the hull of the ship. Shandy does as he is ordered and tries to keep calm as he carries the body. Unfortunately, the midshipman blows his cover and reveals the corpse of Wilson. But as luck would have it, Davies was already finished with the explosives, found Shandy and together they leaped of the vessel before it explode.

After all of the excitment, the cheery pirates took their wounded ship to Florida and celebrated Shandy's heroics. Over a drink of rum, Davies and Shandy form a new sense of respect and friendship for each other. With Hodge now dead from the Man-of-war's guns, Davies promotes Shandy to be his new quatermaster.

The Fountain

"Very well, so what is this focus or fountain we're going into the jungle to find?"
"Why, I thought you knew that, Jack. It's a hole in the wall between life and death, and anyone standing around is liable to catch the spray from one side or the other. Don't you know any history? It's what Juan Ponce de Leon was looking for—he called it the Fountain of Youth.
―Jack Shandy and Philip Davies[src]

Finally at Florida, the Jenny meets up with the Carmichael and Stede Bonnet's ship, the sloop Revenge. Later on Blackbeard's infamous ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, joined the pirate's league.

During Shandy's absences, Beth started to stray from her father and his bizarre behavior and not wanting to embrace Friend's odd companionship, she speaked to the newly arrived captain, Bonnet. Once they have each others trust, Bonnet tells Beth of his suspicions of someone controlling his mind. Beth offered Bonnet a plan to escape their unknown fate in Florida. She plans to run away but unfotunately, her plans are diminished by Shandy's arrival shortly before Blackbeard himself appeared with a mysterious boatman, a zombie servant.

Later, a party composed of Blackbeard, Davies, Shandy, Hurwood, Elizabeth, Bonnet, Friend, and Blackbeard's zombie goes inland in search of the Fountain of Youth. During the journey, Blackbeard's zombie disintegrates when they reach the mysterious bridge. Traveling through the maze-like swamp, they finally come to a large lake. At this point, Hurwood leads the odd company through the lake. To Shandy, he begins to see a long stone bridge and glimpses scenes from the other's lives. Like for Hurwood's, Shandy saw the dark moments of the old man's wedding and for Blackbeard, he saw the scenes when he was tormented by the voodoo gods. Finally Shandy realizes the eriee bridge he is on, is the bridge Shandy and his father crossed on the night they got mugged.

Before Shandy is to bewildered to continue, Davies tells him they arrived. The first odd sight Shandy witnesses comes from Blackbeard as he steps towards the Fountain. Right when he steps down, he seems to exploded with white steam. Hurwood reassures them that this is only the ghosts being expelled for Blackbeard's possessed body. Once the ghosts are gone, the company treads on. They soon come to a small pond where Hurwood, Blackbeard and Friend drop blood into the pool. Friend also cuts Beth, making her drop the blood there as well. Before leaving, Shandy sees a small withered tree growing in the Fountain, an odd sight in the haunting place.

On they're way back, the group is plagued by strange plants that begin to grow over them as they travel through the swamps on their boats. They try to struggle yet to no avail. Before Shandy permenatly becomes part of the foliage, Davies throws a bit of mud into the air, as a last resort. Strangley enough, the soil contained magic of the fountain and it seemed to explode making all the plant life disapper.

Shandy, takes some of the mud from his boots and plans to use it later if need be. Although alive, the group was seperated, leaving Davies and Shandy alone in the marsh. As they sail quietly through the swamp, they hear the whispers of what appers to be 'mushroom-heads'. The twosome realize these were the whispers of the unfortunate souls that were caught by the plants before them. Davies, being supersitious, discourages the 'mushroom-heads' advice on getting out of the swamps but Shandy tells him to follow it.

Luckily, they make it out alive along with the rest of the group. To Shandy and his mates, it seemed as if they were gone at least several hours, but for the pirates waiting on the shore, they say they were gone for two days. Shandy remarks on how this is another curious affliction done by the Fountain.

Friend's Betrayal

"Even to get a misty, half-wit casting of a dead person takes a lot of sorcerous power. And here somebody's raised the entire damned de Lagrimas —sails, timber, paint and all, and crew too, to judge by the way she's handling, solid enough to look no different from a real ship, and in bright sunlight at that."
―Philip Davies to Jack Shandy[src]

The next morning, the pirate company awakes to find Beth gone and the Carmichael stolen. With Davies and Hurwood both alarmed, they set sail aboard the Jenny to recover the stolen vessel. Instead of helping, Blackbeard sails north with Bonnet and Shandy would never see his same face again.

After days of sail, the pirates notice what appears to be a galleon set adrift. Davies is alarmed that it has no visible wake and it's name Nuestra Senora de Lagrimas, a ship that was thought to be sunked decades ago. Soon they find Friend aboard the Carmichael with Beth locked in his cabin as he plans to do her harm. Hurwood tells Davies that Friend would be even more dangerous now that he shed blood at the Fountain, giving him more sorcerous powers.

The crew sees an example of Friend's new powers firsthand. It appears that Friend ressurected the crew of a sunken ship known as the Charlotte Bailey. Now the Carmichael was crewed by the zombie sailors that drowned years ago. Also, Friend unwittingly arose the ghost of the Charlotte Bailey, whiched cling to the Carmichael. To make matters worse, Friend also ressurected the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de Lagrimas, the ship that was sworn to destroy the Charlotte Bailey, and now it seemed it was ready to finish the job.

Davies and Shandy ordered the crew to commence their attack on Friend's accursed ship. As the pirates battled the zombie crew, Benjamin Hurwood gathered his powers and stormed towards Leo Friend, his former ally. They began to duel and took inot the air while flinging fireballs at each other.

Shandy is quickly swarmed by the zombies and discovers that the Nuestra Senora de Lagrimas is now clining to the Jenny. As the zombies continued to approach the weary Shandy, Davies steps to his aid. While sprinting towards him, Venner, the sun-burnt pirate, trips him. Stumbling toward the zombies, Davies tries to regain his footing and hacks at the undead sailors. Yet sadly, a zombie stabs him in the chest but before slipping into the darkness of death, Davies pushes his sword through the neck of his killer as they both fall down.

Meanwhile Leo, being the younger man, seems to be winning and believes he is victorious as he knocks down Hurwood, leaving him to fall to his death on the ship's decks. At the last second, Hurwood reveals a surprising smile and glides towards Friend for a final blow, killing the young man.

With Friend gone, the zombies and ghost ships vanished. Shandy then comes to Beth and tells her that she is saved. Strangely, she replies that she would never sail with a pirate and would rather sail with her eccentric father. Hurwood interuppted Shandy's protests and claims the Vociferous Carmichael for himself. Shandy, sulkenly returns to his ship where he hears of Davies, Mr. Bird and several other crewmate's demise and he must replace him as captain. Mournfully, he orders the crew to return to New Providence.

The Death of Stede Bonnet

"Don't let me escape again, do you understand? Lock me up in some place I can't be got out of, and keep alert guards over me!"
"Don't worry.
―Stede Bonnet and William Rhett[src]

The story shifts to Stede Bonnet, newly escaped from his imprisionment in Charleston. Bonnet, believing Blackbeard is controlling his mind, plans to die so he can escape from the giant pirate's magics. He, his crewmate Herriott and two mysterious magicans that Bonnet believes Blackbeard sent them to watch him, were all on Sullivan Island. Luckily, Bonnet has nothing to fear for the Colonel Rhett came to capture him again as he waited on the island.

The soldiers fire their rounds, killing Herriot and the two magicans. Rhett then takes Bonnet and hulls him off the prison to be hanged. Although wishing he could die quickly, Bonnet smiles knowing he finally escaped Blackbeard.

Blackbeard's Death

"Damn you for villains, who are you? And from whence came you?"
"You may see by our colors, we are no pirates.
―Blackbeard and Robert Maynard[src]

Blackbeard stands on the deck of his new sloop, the Adventure, and watches as two navy ships sails to him. His mates tell him on numerous occasions that they should sail away hastily, but Blackbeard has different plans.

He orders the crew to ready for battle and that taking the sloops would be easy. When the sloop is in range, the pirates fire upon the sloop and it seemed that half of naval crew is done. Blackbeard swings over to the sloop with his crew in tow. Once they land on deck, the British sailors appear from below decks and the battle continues. Blackbeard knows and planned that he would die here, but wanting his death to be legendary, the pirate captain fought Lieutenant Maynard while suffering many injuries.

When at last he slipped into death, his head was cut off and hung on the bowsprit. The pirate's blood fell into the seas, save for one last drop.

Shandy's Return to Piracy

"Skank! Skank, dammit, where—there you are. Come here!"
"What's up, Jack?"
Jenny's leaving today, this afternoon. Get all the men you can—and provisions—and get aboard her."
―Jack Shandy and Skank[src]

With his friend dead and beloved captured, Shandy can't think of anything else to do but drink rum under the hot sun in New Providence. He allowed his crew to dawdle around the island, not caring if they take the King's Pardon or not. Upon hearing of Blackbeard's death, he seemed not to care. One night Shandy, drunk, finds Anne Bonny, a wife of the disgusting Jim Bonny. Anne, thinking Shandy is cute, begins to seduce him and Shandy happily obliges to her advances. Unfortunatly, Jim Bonny appears and he is not happy. He quickly lashes out some voodoo magic on drunken Shandy. Realizing he might die, Shandy tries to manage some sort of retort. In a last resort, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the mud-ball he got en route to the Foutain. He threw the mud into the air and again the mud exploded. Shandy was then knocked unconscious and his mind was filled with weird dreams. In the dreams, Shandy was in a city talking to a voodoo god. The god said that he wasted a magical gift, the mud-ball. The god then told Shandy, that he had another gift that he could use in due time. After meeting with the god, Shandy forgets about Anne and continues his quest for Beth Hurwood.

After a long voyage around the Caribbean, Shandy again returns to New Providence brokenhearted. Again he continues to go on a drinking binge. One day he met a young navy officer who told him of a new pirate captain whose reputation was notorious as Blackbeard's. Apperently, the new pirate, Captain Ulysses Segundo, captains a ship with corpses in the netting. One even was heard speaking, "I'm not a dog!"

Shandy, although thinks it is impossible, believed that it was Hurwood! He quickly round up his crew and told them to make sail. Venner was angered by this for he thought the Jenny would go to him. Belaying Venner's complaints, Shandy and the crew were ready to set out then.

Before leaving, Shandy speaks with Governer Sawney. Sawney spoke of how he knew of the Fountain and its magical powers. He told Shandy that when a person puts blood in the Fountain, a tree would grow in its place and as long as that tree is alive, so will the person. Immediately, Shandy remembers the withered tree in the Fountain. He also realizes that Blackbeard's death isn't permanent and that his soul still walks the earth. Shandy then asks Sawney how to kill a man who is enchanted by the Fountain. Sawney tells him the only way to do so is by linking the atoms of blood and cold iron. Although not quite understanding, Shandy thanks him and asks how he knows all of this. The old man smiled and revealed himself as Juan Ponce de León, the discoverer of the Fountain of Youth.

A Duel with Venner

"We goin' to Jamaica."
―Woefully Fat to the crew of the Jenny[src]

Shandy continues to search for Hurwood's ship the Ascending Orpheus when pressed with a dark clouds. Not wanting to lose time, he quickly orders the crew to sail on and weather the storm. He watches frantically as his crewmates reef the sails for storm canvas. While doing so, he beings to feel an odd pain in his stomach. Smelling the hot iron scent of magic, he goes below decks and finds Venner over a small fire, trying to make a curse against his captain. Shandy quickly grabs his raiper and they begin to clash, the curse still effecting Shandy. Their fight brings them to on the masts. At last, Shandy was finally able to kill Venner but then fell down to the wooden decks below. When he awakes, his memory is frazzled and he is hurting rather badly yet still tells his crew to press on.

Battling Hurwood

"Did any of our powder stay dry?"
"Hm. Well, we don't want to wreck the
Orpheus anyway. Assuming our mast doesn't snap off, we ought to be able to cut south and head her off—and then I guess just try to board her."
―Jack Shandy and Skank[src]

When the Ascending Orpheus is in sights, Shandy preps himself for battle. He realized by putting a iron sewing needle in his palm, he believes he would link his blood and the sword's iron. When they get closer, they realize the Ascending Orpheus is actually the Carmicheal. Knowing that the Jenny once thought the Carmicheal and survived, the crew's confidence improved and their attack begins. Shandy sets off for Hurwood, leaving his crew to hack at the zombified forms of their former crewmates.

Shandy finds Hurwood and is surprised to him with two arms instead of one. Apperantly, the Fountain regrown his arm as well endowed him with new magical abilites. They begin to brawl on deck until Shandy cuts down the old man. The crew was safe in the aftermath but Woefully Fat was stab with a huge splinter as resulted from the cannon fire. The Jenny sinks and Shandy takes the Carmichael as his new ship.

Later, Shandy asks Hurwood where Beth is and his shocked to hear that she is not on the ship. Apprently, she is with a rich merchant who agreed to watch her for Hurwood. The old man planned to exchanged his daugther's soul for his wife's at the merchant's house. Hurwood told Shandy he planned to fetch her in Jamaica from Joshua Hicks, the merchant.

Overnight, Hurwood passed away but as a surprise to everyone, Woefully Fat survived. The giant man still had the splinter pierce through his flesh but told the crew he was born in Jamacia and planned to die in Jamacia. So in the morning, Shandy and Woefully Fat rowed to Jamaica together.

Shandy's Arrival to Jamaica

"Prisoners, you were seen to disembark from the pirate vessel the Ascending Orpheus. We have received intelligence from the New Providence colony to the effect that John Chandagnac and Grievously Fat left that island on the thirteenth of December, sailing for Jamaica with the intention of making a rendezvous with the pirate Ulysse Segundo. Will you deny that you are these two men?"
―A Royal Navy officer to Jack Shandy and Woefully Fat[src]

Within a few leagues from shore, a Royal Navy vessel appeared and ordered the men to exit their boat. Shandy was then recognized as a pirate yet instead of being escorted to prison, Woefully Fat used his magic to persuade the officers to take them to the Maritime Law Office. Once there, the clerks are terrified of the pirates and Woefully Fat begins to advance toward them. Seeing the man's approach and believeing he meant them harm, the clerks ran away in a panic. Several officers began to shoot Woefully Fat but it didn't seem to effect him. When he finally reached the courtyard, he fell down and died in his native soil. During the turmoil, Shandy made his escape and planned to find Joshua Hicks and Beth.

The Dinner Party

"Look me in the eye. I'm your brother, Sebastian. I'm Francois."
"I heard you had ... died. Really died, I mean."
"I did—but haven't you ever heard of vodun? I've only come back from Hell tonight to fetch you, dear brother.
―Jack Shandy and Joshua Hicks[src]

Buying some new clothes to disguise himself, Shandy found Joshua's house and sneaked into what appeared to be a party for some of Jamica's wealthiest indivuals. Soon Joshua Hicks stood up and gave a toast to his guests. Shandy then realized that the moneyed man was in fact his uncle, Seabastian.

Before he could confront him, Shandy watched as two officers entered the party. They announce that a pirate has arrived on Jamacia and seemed to be making his way to here. During their speech, Shandy notice a giant bald man looking at him with a smile on his face. Before questioning him, an old man next to Shandy realized he fit the officers description of him. Before the old man called the guards, Shandy brandished his sword, disarmed the officers and made for his trecherous uncle.

Young Shandy asked him where the girl was and his cowardly uncle replied that she was up stairs. Before he left, Seabastian asked Shandy who was he. Realizing he looked much older and more like his father, he told the man he was Seabastian's brother, back from the dead to drag him to hell. Fear overtook the merchant's heart and he fell over dead.

Shandy turned to run up the stairs and find his love, when he saw the large bald man from before. He too had a sword in his hand and began to swing the blade. After an intense fight, the giant bald man succumbed to Shandy's quick swordmanship. Shandy raced upstairs, found Beth half dead and help her out the window and out to the Carmichael waiting miles away.

The Final Demise of Blackbeard

"I'm grateful to you for escorting to me my bride—the only woman in the world who has shed blood in Erebus—and I'd like you to be my quartermaster."
"I'll see you in Hell first, Blackbeard.
―Blackbeard and Jack Shandy[src]

After treking through the dense jungle, Shandy and Beth finally made it to a small wharf. Just when he was about to buy a boat to cast off to the Carmichael, the bald man appeared once again. The large man gave an evil laugh and Shandy realized it could only be one man, Blackbeard; reincarnated. Blackbeard told Shandy that he needed the girl to complete his magical transformation, that by marrying her he was able to gain the powers of man and woman. He offered him a postion as quartermaster if he handed her over quietly. Shandy rejected his offer and unseathed his sword. Blackbeard did the same and also rose the dead bodies that were waiting under the wharf.

Shandy began to clash with Blackbeard. He realized that linking his blood and the iron wasn't successful against the pirate. He then remembered what the voodoo god told him; that he still had some magical gift. He searched himself and then felt the prescene of his friend Davies. Shandy couldn't believe it. He's risen the spirit of Davies but a sour smell told him he has also risen the spirit of Leo Friend. So Shandy and Davies continued to fight the horde of mixed supernatural creatures.

As Shandy battled Blackbeard and his undead minions, leaving Beth by herself. Noticing that Shandy wasn't able to use the blood and iron trick on Blackbeard, she thought of a plan. She ordered Shandy to marry her and share her powers. He did so over the clamor and when their words were finished, Shandy then stab Blackbeard where he finally died.

Shandy and his new bride then continued to the Carmichael, eager to live the life ahead of them.



  • John Chandagnac/Jack Shandy - a puppeteer forced to become a pirate.
  • Philip Davies - a notorious pirate, one of the captains of the sloop Jenny.
  • Johnny Con/Edward "Ed" Thatch/Blackbeard/Edmund Morcilla - a pirate, known as the "hunsi kanzo", who wants to achieve immortality, captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge.
  • Benjamin Hurwood/Ulysses Segundo - former professor who wants to resurrect his dead wife.
  • Leo Friend - Hurwood's assistant who wants to achieve immortality.
  • Elizabeth "Beth" Hurwood - Benjamin Hurwood's only daughter and love interest of Jack.
  • Stede Bonnet - Blackbeard's puppet, captain of the sloop Revenge.
  • Joshua Hicks/Sebastian Chandagnac - Shandy's treacherous uncle.
  • "Governor" Sawney/Juan Ponce de León - the former governor of New Providence Island, and an immortal Spaniard.
  • Anne Bonny - a female pirate in Nassau.
  • Arthur Chaworth - one of the captains of the Vociferous Carmichael.
  • Sam Wilson - captain of the Whitney.
  • Skank - Shandy's quartermaster.
  • Robert Maynard - a British Royal Navy lieutenant who is responsible for Blackbeard's first death.



  • Vociferous Carmichael - a merchant ship captured by pirates, later converted into a pirate ship and renamed the Ascending Orpheus.
  • Jenny - a pirate sloop, originally captained by Philip Davies but later by Jack Shandy.
  • Revenge - a pirate sloop captained by Stede Bonnet.
  • Whitney - a British Royal Navy man-of-war, destroyed somewhere in Florida Keys by Davies and Shandy.
  • HMS Delicia - a British Royal Navy brig which brought governor Woodes Rogers to the New Providence Island.
  • Charlotte Bailey - an English privateer vessel, sunked in 1630 in battle with the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Lagrimas, later brought to surface as a spectral ghost ship crewed by the undead.
  • Nuestra Senora de Lagrimas - the Spanish treasure galleon, sunked in 1630 in battle with the English privateer Charlotte Bailey, later brought to surface as a spectral ghost ship crewed by the undead.
  • Adventure - a pirate sloop, the last ship captained by Blackbeard before his first death.
  • Queen Anne's Revenge - Blackbeard's flagship, hidden somewhere by Blackbeard before his first death.

Behind the scenes


Fantasy writer Tim Powers published On Stranger Tides in 1987. In the process of writing his book, Powers researched voodoo magic, historical pirate profiles, and history. Asked of what inspired his writing of On Stranger Tides, Powers stated:

I was already hooked into using real historical places for settings. And so I thought, you know you loved Treasure Island...And I thought I bet you can set a nice fantasy story in among the pirates, Blackbeard, that crowd. So I read a million books (that is probably fifteen books) about that particular crowd of pirates that were in the Caribbean in 1718 like Stede Bonnet, Blackbeard, and Anne Bonny.
What I always do when I'm writing a book is first I read all the history and biographies and things like that that I can find. And I look for stuff that's too cool not to use. 'Ooh that's neat. Look at that. I like that.' And I'll write it down. And then I'll find something else and say, 'Oh wow this is great. You got to have a scene happening in this place. Oh you gotta use this guy.' Eventually, I'll have twenty or thirty things that are too cool not to use. And it's kind of fun then because you say, 'Well okay, here's twenty or thirty parts of your book. You just have to connect the dots.' And so I thought, 'Ok, what was Blackbeard really up to?'[2]

Connection with Pirates of the Caribbean

During the back-to-back filming of Dead Man's Chest and At World's End, screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio found Tim Powers' novel, On Stranger Tides. Thinking, 'What an interesting way to go,' they brought it up to producer Jerry Bruckheimer and optioned the book because they wanted to start a new chapter.[3] After the successful opening weekend of At World's End, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook said he was interested in a fourth installment. The Los Angeles Times also reported that Bruckheimer already had rights to a book that could end up as another installment.[4]

On September 11, 2009, during the D23 Expo, Johnny Depp dressed in full Captain Jack Sparrow regalia and announced the fourth Pirates film, with a teaser poster, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.[5] After the title was announced, those familiar with Tim Powers' novel suspected there was a connection.[6] On October 6, 2009, Powers was able to confirm that Disney had optioned his book.

In 2003, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, was released. Author Tim Powers went and saw it, though wondered if his book was used. Then, before the second movie (Dead Man's Chest) was released, Disney had approached Powers' agent and said they wanted to option On Stranger Tides in case they do a fourth Pirates movie, despite that there had only been the one movie at that point. But Tim Powers was hugely optimistic, and he and his wife Serena saw Dead Man's Chest the first day it came out just to add their "two votes" to making it a big success. Having saw the film, Powers saw another possible element or two from his book; the idea of a character up in the rigging of a mast standing on a cross spar holding two poles to work a puppet down on the deck below, Powers then wondered if that would've been there if he hadn't written his book. But by that time they had got the option so he figured, "carry on." And then finally they wouldn't actually buy the book until they were virtually filming the week before, as it was standard with movies that they don't outright purchase the property until they're setting up the cameras.[7]

Pirates of the Caribbean- On Stranger Tides Logo

The D23 Expo poster that began the speculations.

After the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie title was announced in 2009, those familiar with Tim Powers' novel suspected there was a connection. When asked about how his book would mix with the film, Powers said the trip to the Fountain of Youth is "probably the most obvious thing", because of it being revealed at the end of At World's End. Powers also stated that the main character of his book, Jack Shandy, and Jack Sparrow are totally different characters, though said it's possible that Barbossa and Blackbeard might overlap. Terry Rossio, co-writer of the Pirates films, stated that the film's script wasn't necessarily based on the book but that they did use elements from the novel.[8] In March 2010, producer Jerry Bruckheimer confirmed that the search for the Fountain of Youth would indeed be the plot basis, and that both Barbossa and Blackbeard would appear in the film, with Blackbeard as the main villain, portrayed by Ian McShane.

In the making of the fourth Pirates film, screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio dug ever deeper into the pirate and seagoing history, lore and mythology with the assistance of Tim Powers' much-admired novel of the same title, from which suggestions for the story arose. "The main guideline was to create a stand-alone story rather than a continuation of the trilogy, or the start of a new one," noted Rossio. "And then of course the Tim Powers book, 'On Stranger Tides,' was a huge inspiration for characters, theme, settings, and basic storyline."[9]

Rossio stated that he and Elliot had considered using Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth in the story before reading the book, "but whenever you say those words, Powers' novel comes to mind. There was no way we could work in that field without going into territory Tim had explored." However, they denied that it would be a straight version of the novel: "Blackbeard came from the book, and in the book there is a daughter character, too. But Jack Sparrow is not in the book, nor is Barbossa. So I wouldn't call this an adaptation."[10]

Tim Powers stated that he never consulted with the screenwriters on the film, saying:

I don't think they're using much of my book at all...Apparently, the movie is going to involve Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth. If the movie involves anything else from my book, that'll be a pleasant surprise when I see the movie itself but I really have no idea. I know they have a lot of characters that weren't in my book; the Penélope Cruz character, mermaids, and adventures in London. None of those were in my book and I’ll be interested how they work out their story.[2]

In a 2011 interview, Pirates scriptwriter Terry Rossio confirmed assumptions that the plot of the story has been largely ripped from the unrelated novel On Stranger Tides[11]:

"Blackbeard, Angelica, the Fountain of Youth. Stylistically, we’ve integrated the book into our universe with Captain Jack and Barbossa."

Despite this, Tim Powers also expressed his belief on film adaptions being different from their books, saying, "I don't figure movies are under any obligation to resemble the books they're based on."[2][7] He always thought of To Have And Have Not—both the Hemingway book and the Bogart movie—in which the only things in common was the name of the protagonist. Powers had stated his belief that it's "hopeless and naive" for writers to make the eventual movie similar to the original book, saying both are such different forms and work by such different mathematics. Whenever asked about this, Tim Powers brought up a famous line by James Cain when someone asked him, "What do you think of what Hollywood has done to your novels?" And he pointed to the bookshelf and said... "They haven't done anything to them. Look - there they are." Powers said that would be his attitude.[7]

Elements from the book to the film

Screenwriter Terry Rossio stated that Tim Powers' novel was stylistically integrated into the Pirates of the Caribbean universe when making the fourth film. The film would include:

  • Blackbeard – As per the book, Blackbeard is a Brujos, and could resurrect those he killed into his service.[12] As described in the novel, Blackbeard had a craggy (or haggard, as per the film's visual guide) face and wore a "heavy black coat". Blackbeard was the film's main villain, while he was a secondary villain in the novel. He even says a variation of his historical line, which also appeared in the novel, "If I don't kill a man every now and then, they forget who I am."
  • Angelica – a character loosely based off of Beth Hurwood, the daughter of the Benjamin Hurwood, one of the villains of the novel. In the film, Angelica was made to be the daughter of Blackbeard and was redesigned on account of the casting of Penélope Cruz.
  • Queen Anne's Revenge – the ship of the notorious Blackbeard that plays a large role in the film, while it made a brief appearance in the novel.
  • Dark Magic/Voodoo – though not explicitly shown onscreen, it was said on the film's visual guide that metal disrupts magic, which was likely taken from the fact that iron disrupts magic in the novel.
  • Zombies – In the book, Shandy listened to stories of ships crewed by zombies, and Blackbeard's boatman was a zombie servant. In the film, Blackbeard had a zombie crew.
  • Mermaids – Although they were only briefly referenced,[13][14] mermaids were the "suck-you-byes" mentioned by pirates a night before the Carmichael sailed for Florida. As in the novel, they were "female demons that weirdly and erotically occupied the last hours of men marooned on barren islands".[15] In the film, mermaids appear to be siren-like; succubus took the form of a siren in real-world folklore.
  • Juan Ponce de León – appeared as a skeletal corpse lying on a bed aboard the Santiago in the film, while in the novel, he was very much alive under the guise of Governor Sawney.
  • Fountain of Youth – In the novel Jack Shandy and Blackbeard search for the Fountain in Florida, while in the film Jack Sparrow and Blackbeard trekked on a mysterious island.
  • Hispaniola and Saint Dominique – the island and the French colony are only mentioned in the film, while they both appear in the novel.

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