- "You Don't Know Jack. Yet."
- ―The Price of Freedom tagline
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Price of Freedom is a 2011 adventure novel written by A. C. Crispin, the last to be published during her lifetime. A prequel to the film series, the book details the adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow when he was in the employ of the East India Trading Company as well as following how Jack was branded as a pirate and became captain of the Black Pearl. It was published in hardcover from Disney Editions, on May 17, 2011.
Twenty-five-year-old Jack Sparrow is a clean-cut merchant seaman pursuing a legitimate career as a first mate for the East India Trading Company. He sometimes thinks back to his boyhood pirating days, but he doesn't miss Teague's scrutiny or the constant threat of the noose. Besides, he doesn't have much choice—he broke the Code when he freed a friend who had been accused of rogue piracy, and he can no longer show his face in Shipwreck Cove.
When Jack's ship is attacked by pirates and his captain dies in the altercation, he suddenly finds himself in command. The wily sailor's skillful negotiations with the pirate captain—who turns out to be a woman from his past—result in a favorable outcome that puts Jack in line for an official promotion.
After making port in Africa, Jack is summoned by Cutler Beckett, who makes him captain of a ship called the Wicked Wench. Beckett gives Jack an assignment. He has heard a legend about a magical island named Zerzura whose labyrinthine bowels are said to contain a glorious treasure. Beckett suspects that one of his house slaves, a girl named Ayisha, is from Zerzura. He asks Jack to take her along on his voyage and seduce her into divulging the island's whereabouts. In payment for his services, Beckett promises Jack a share of the treasure.
But this task isn't as easy as Jack initially believes. Before she agrees to reveal the location of her home, Ayisha insists that Jack take her to the New World to rescue her brother, who has been sold into slavery in the Bahamas. Their voyage is long and arduous, and as they weather a vicious storm and a surprise attack from an old pirate foe, Jack grows to respect and admire Ayisha's bravery. He knows that Beckett intends to enslave her people after robbing them of their treasure, and Jack's moral compass revolts at the idea. It might be possible to deliver Ayisha safely to Zerzura, obtain some of the treasure, and convince Beckett that he never found it... but the greedy E.I.T.C. official has eyes everywhere, and if he learns that Jack has foiled his plans, he could take away the thing that Captain Sparrow loves most: his ship-and his freedom.
The Rogue Threat
Jack Sparrow is a twenty year old pirate living in Shipwreck Cove. It seems that times cannot be better for the Pirate Brethren, but that will change very quickly. The mysterious rogue pirates begin to slaughter their victims, openly violating the Code of the Pirate Brethren. Instead of the traditional black pirate flag, the rogues fly the red flag with the horned demon skull. Their attacks could cause the war against piracy, and Captain Edward Teague, Keeper of the Code, decides to investigate the case.
Meanwhile, Jack and his older friend Christophe-Julien de Rapièr meet Esmeralda Maria Consuela Anna de Sevilla, the granddaughter of Don Rafael, captain of the Venganza and Pirate Lord of the Caribbean Sea. Jack and Esmeralda start to go on picnics on hidden inlets around Shipwreck Island, teaching each other in swordfighting and swimming in the process. Christophe soon joins them, and he teaches both youngsters in swordfighting. But Esmeralda later admits to Jack that she likes his company much more, because Christophe never misses an opportunity to touch her during the lessons. It's obvious to Jack that Christophe wishes to seduce Esmeralda.
- "Ladies, gentlemen, allow me present to you, Captain Hector Barbossa."
- ―Edward Teague to assembled pirates at Shipwreck Cove
Suddenly, a pirate captain named Hector Barbossa informs the Pirate Lords that his ship, the Cobra, was attacked and destroyed by the rogues. The Brethren Court decides to destroy the rogues once and for all. A few weeks later, after Jack and Christophe took Esmeralda to their favorite tavern, the Drunken Lady, Jack meets One Tooth Tommy, one of Barbossa's crewmen. Tommy tells him how he saw "The Devil", the captain of the rogue pirate sloop that sank the Cobra. But he also tells him that he saw "The Devil" again, in Shipwreck Cove, on the deck of his ship. Initially, Jack doesn't believe Tommy, but when he finds his dead body in the cove two days later, Jack realizes that the rogues are among the Brethren.
A Counter to the Threat
To avenge Tommy, Jack sets out on his own to find these rouges himself. Just as he begins to begin his secret quest, Jack is stopped by Esmeralda, who wants to come along. Jack is shocked to hear this for he believed that she fallen for Christophe seductive charms. Esmeralda later informs him this is not the case and that she rather enjoys spending her time with Jack rather than Christophe. Jack is delighted to hear this and they share their first kiss. Jack informs Esmeralda of the rogues that are hiding in this place. Together they set off to find the rouge pirate ship.
The couple soon find the vessel Tommy described before; a sleek sloop with a bow chaser. It was then Jack realized that the sloop belong to his old friend, Boris Palachnik, the Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea. Jack and Esmeralda hurry back to shore and Jack race through the streets of Shipwreck Cove to find Barbossa. Once found, Barbossa identified Boris' ship as the one who sank the Cobra. Teague was later sought out and the Keeper of the Code called Boris and his crew into questioning.
Meeting with Davy Jones
Most of the pirates gathered as Teague began a piractical trial. Boris was asked many difficult questions but seemed to mask his emotions effortlessly. After bringing a few witnesses to speak against Borya (including Jack), Teague believed only one being could truly deem Borya guilty: Davy Jones.
Knowing that the Lord of the Locker could not set foot on land but once every ten years, Teague and a few other Pirate Lords began to conjure Jones on the decks of the Troubadour, Teague's ship. So as Teague and his fellow Pirate Lords called out to Jones, the room started to get darker and a storm outside started to appear. Then out of the darkness stepped out Davy Jones. Teague spoke to Jones inquiring about Borya's activities and Jones responded that Borya was guilty. Teague vowed that they would send Boris into his realm soon. Jones also revealed that Borya wasn't the only rogue pirate in Shipwreck Cove.
A Fateful Decision
- "Jacques, tomorrow at dawn they are going to hang me, and all my men, who are innocent, too. We are pirates, yes, but you are a pirate, too! We have not broken the Code! It is Captain Borya's malice, his final revenge on an enemy that has brought us to this pass. Jacques, you are my best friend in all the world...please. Help me."
- ―Christophe-Julien de Rapièr to Jack Sparrow
After witnessing Teague condemn Borya to death, Jack and Esmeralda went to the Drunken Lady to clear their heads. Once there, Barbossa joined them at their table and offered to buy Jack a drink so he can repay him for finding the rogue. Later on, Barbossa says he went to visit Borya in his cell and the old Russian gave him a piece of wood but he didn't realize it was one of the nine Piece of Eight which would make him the new Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea. Jack told him he should tell Teague about it later.
Barbossa also revealed that Borya revealed the names of all rogue captains under his command, including the name the other rogue pirate in Shipwreck Cove. It turned out that the other rogue is none other than Christophe. Jack didn't believe Christophe was capable of this and decided he was going to see for himself whenever Christophe was innocent or not.
Jack visited Christophe in his cell and looked at his jailed friend in dismay. After hearing his pleas, Jack knew he must help him some way. After stealing the keys for the cell from Teague's dog, Jack crawled swiftly through an a secret passage to the Shipwreck City dungeons, where Christophe was held. After freeing Christophe, the French pirate then took the keys from Jack and unlocked the cell for his crew and Borya. It was then Jack realized his friend was indeed a rogue pirate but that couldn't stop all of them. The rogue pirate mob encountered Teague and his men and together they clashed into a bloody skirmish. During the fight, Jack was knocked unconscious after preventing a rogue pirate from shooting at Teague.
Life with the Rogues
Jack awoke on the decks of Christophe's ship, the La Vipère. With Shipwreck Cove nowhere in sight, Jack was forced to work with the rogues. During his unfortunate voyage, Jack met a young Englishman named Robby Greene. After a few days, the rouges sighted a Dutch flute and began to fire upon her and butcher any soul on board. As Jack walked through the wreckage of the flute, he was surprised to find a large African man. As he laid on the ship dying, Jack tried comfort him during his last final moments. The African said his name was Taharka and was a proud Pharaoh of Zerzura. He gave Jack a bracelet and told him to return it to his people. Jack vowed to him that he would. After he died, Christophe appeared behind him. Seeing an opportunity to do away with Jack with a bit of torture, Christophe yelled out to the crew that Jack was going to steal the bracelet from the crew and punishment for that was death. The French rogue took the bracelet from Jack and forced him to board a little rowboat with no water or food. As Jack rowed away from La Vipère, he yelled to Christophe that Esmeralda kissed him. Furious, Christophe tried to shoot Jack with the musket, but he was interrupted by Robby, who jumped overboard with the two bottles of water and some food. Robby swam to Jack and together they set out to find a new life.
After abandoning Christophe, Jack and Robby signed on a merchant ship, leaving the pirate lives behind them. Over the next five years, six of the eight rogue pirate captains were killed by the Brethren Court, but Borya and Christophe continued to operate in the Caribbean. Two years after the trial in Shipwreck Cove, Don Rafael was shot in the back by Christophe, and Esmeralda inherited his ship, his crew, and his title, becoming the new Pirate Lord of the Caribbean. Meanwhile, Jack and Robby joined the East India Trading Company, working on the ships which sailed from the port of Calabar, Africa.
Eventually, Jack became the First Mate of the EITC brig Fair Wind, sailing under captain Nathaniel Bainbridge. When the ship sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica to London, England, with the cargo of rum, she encountered the Venganza, now captained by Esmeralda. The pirate frigate quickly caught the slow merchant ship, and though Jack persuaded the crew not to fight, Captain Bainbridge attacked Esmeralda because he didn't believe a woman should be a captain. He died from an apoplexy during the fight.
Jack negotiated with Esmeralda and convinced her not to take the whole cargo of rum his ship was carrying. Later, he came to the Venganza to a dinner with Esmeralda, and the two spent a passionate night together. The next morning, Jack returned to the Fair Wind, and after the memorial service for Captain Bainbridge, he sailed the ship for England.
After arriving in London, Jack gave his report to the EITC officials at the London EITC Office. They took the remaining cargo of the Fair Wind and loaded the ship with firearms. During his brief time in London, Jack went to Bainbridge's family and told them of Nathaniel's untimely demise. Afterwords, Jack sailed the ship back to its home port, Calabar.
- "Generally when EITC employees save the company money, I award them a nice bonus. Say ten pounds. However I suspect that there are things you would much prefer to have rather than a monetary bonus, if I judge your character correctly. So... how would a promotion to captain suit you, as well as a vessel to command?"
- ―Cutler Beckett to Jack Sparrow
Once he arrived in Calabar, Jack was summoned to see Cutler Beckett, the East India Trading Company Director for West Africa. Beckett was amused by Jack and considered him to be very valuable for the company and himself. Since he was a calculating man, Beckett decided to entice Jack with the position of captain of the Marlin. Although Jack was pleased to hear of the offer his spirits dampened when he realized he would carry a cargo of slaves. Jack, who once was imprisoned aboard a ship himself, had a deep love for freedom and thought slavery was unjust. Sadly, Jack turned down Beckett's offer. Not wanting to lose such a witty man, Beckett offered him another ship, the Wicked Wench, which would be transporting other cargoes to the Caribbean. Jack was relieved and agreed to his new position as captain.
- "Chamba? I'm sorry I couldn't help you, lad, I really am. But there's nothing to be gained by haunting me. Go visit Blount, perhaps you can frighten him into an apoplexy—which the bastard bloody well deserves."
"Cap'n Sparrow? Please, help! I ain't no ghost, I'm me. I be hanging here, outside the window."
- ―Jack Sparrow and Chamba
Within a few days Jack had already made some progress on getting the Wicked Wench seaworthy. After promoting him to first mate, Jack had Robby hire a crew. Soon the Wicked Wench had dozens of men working on her and careening her on the sand banks of the Calabar River. Later on, Jack recieved his crates of salted pork for his crew. After inspecting it, Jack was startled to find that the pork was spoiled. Jack then ventured off to find Benjamin Blount, the portmaster and the one who was responsible the meat. After harsh questioning by Jack, Blount replied that it was his slave, Chamba who was at fault. Blount said that Chamba would get a whipping for it later and sent Jack along with a new supply of pork and a few extras.
Later that night, Jack heard a faint mourning outside his cabin window. To his surprise it was the slave, Chamba, who had escaped his master after a brutal whipping. Jack help the lad into his cabin and then began dressing his wounds. During the process, the half dead boy feel asleep, exhausted. When he awoke, Jack and Chamba discuss what to do next. Jack knew he couldn't send Chamba back for he knew the boy would be whipped again. Jack decided that he would hide the child while in port, hire him as his cabin boy later and sail away from vile Blount.
Soon, Chamba proved resourceful and became well adapted to life at sea. Jack and Robby also tried to teach Chamba proper English, which the boy learned extremely well.
Life as Captain
The newly christened Captain Jack Sparrow sailed off from Calabar to begin his new life commanding the Wicked Wench. In the beginning of the voyage, Jack encountered a heavy storm. Although the weather was dangerous, it was an opportunity for the crew to better themselves as sailors. With Jack at the helm, the ship endured only a few fractures and the there was no loss of life.
The rest of the voyage was full of clear skies. In fact, the Wicked Wench almost had beaten the record for the fastest ship across the Triangle, a feat not so easily done by new captains. Although Jack look forward to celebrating in port, Cutler Beckett had other ideas.
Reginald Marmaduke Bracegirdle-Penwallow
- "This is Viscount, Lord Reginald Marmaduke Bracegirdle-Penwallow, the EITC's Director of African Affairs."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Lord Penwallow."
"Thank you, Captain Sparrow, and I must say the pleasure is all mine. It's an honor to meet the captain who so nearly broke the record for sailing the Triangle—and on the vessel's maiden voyage as an EITC ship, too! Well done, well done, Captain Sparrow!"
- ―Cutler Beckett, Jack Sparrow and Reginald Marmaduke Bracegirdle-Penwallow
When the ship anchored, Ian Mercer stood on the docks and demanded that Captain Sparrow follow him at once. Jack, unsure whenever to trust a man with such a cold stare, followed him with a bit of caution. Once they arrived at Beckett's house, Jack was told to strip down and bathe in one of Beckett's large tubs. Jack declined at first but then was told Mercer would make him do it. Not wanting to by yanked with Mercer's black gloves, Jack quickly bathed, dressed himself in finer clothes given to him by Beckett and was told to meet the EITC Director in the dining room.
Once there, Jack sat down with Beckett and a portly fellow who introduced himself as Viscount Reginald Marmaduke Bracegirdle-Penwallow. They sat around an elegant table and dined on a feast with food Jack had never encountered before. Afterwards, Jack was told he was brought here not only to sup with the elder Viscount but to also be instructed on his next shipment. Apparently, Penwallow bought a large spot of land on the sugarcane-filled island of New Avalon. It was Jack's job to carefully deliver some of building materials that were necessary to built Penwallow's new summer home. Jack happily accepted the offer and readied his ship for another voyage.
While Jack was at sea, Mercer showed Beckett some strange artifacts he purchased for Beckett's eye. After inspecting the obviously African bracelet, Beckett realized that it was made in Zerzura, a city on the legendary island of Kerma. Mercer reported it he bought it off a slave trader who took it off a slave. Mercer then reported the slave was bought by Roger Dalton, a plantation owner. Beckett then went out of his way to buy the slave for he knew she was a native of Zerzura. After purchasing her, Beckett knew what Jack's next assignment was; to find Zerzura.
As the ugly slavegirl Ayisha works in Beckett's household as a seamstress, the Wicked Wench returns to Calabar. Sparrow is summoned to Beckett's office, where Beckett explains his plan. Jack would pretend to help Ayisha escape from slavery, take her onboard the Wicked Wench, and when he verifies that the bearings of the island are correct, he would return to Calabar and Beckett would send his fleet to conquer Kerma. In exchange for the bearings of Kerma, Beckett agrees to give him thirty percent of the gold that he expected to find on the island.
However, Ayisha, who is not half-witted as everyone believed, forces Jack to help her free another Zerzuran who is imprisoned in Calabar, a bodyguard named Tarek. The Wench sails from Calabar, and though Jack wants Ayisha to lead him to Kerma, she convines him to steer his ship to the Bahamas, to find her long lost brother. During the voyage, Jack accidentally discovers that Ayisha is neither ugly nor old! Her real name is Amenirdis, and she is actually a beautifull Zerzuran princess who is able to cast magic spells that hide her real appearance.
Months at sea
With the help of his magical compass, Jack discovers that Amenirdis' brother Shabako is a slave on the island of New Avalon. Disguising himself as a nobleman and impersonating Frederick Penwallow, the son of Lord Reginald Marmaduke Bracegirdle-Penwallow, who owns one of the sugar plantations on the island, Jack and his friends free Shabako from slavery. The Wench sails east.
During the journey through the Bahamas, the Wench is attacked by the Koldunya, the ship of the rogue pirate Boris Palachnik. The both ships get stuck in the Northwest Providence Channel and fire at each other mercillesly, but as the rogues free their ship and prepare to destroy the Wench, Amenirdis uses her magical abilities to blow up the pirate vessel. The Wench is heavily damaged, but she is saved from sinking by the crew of the Venganza, the ship of Jack's love interest Esmeralda which suddenly appears.
Over the next few days, Esmeralda's pirates help Jack's men to repair their ship. Esmeralda meets Amenirdis and the two become friends. However, Amenirdis becomes jealous because she knows that Esmeralda and Jack are more than just friends, and she slowly falls in love with Jack.
When the Wench is properly repaired in Savannah, she sails east, finding the La Vipere, the ship of the rogue pirate Christophe-Julien de Rapièr. Jack and Christophe parley and make a deal about finding the treasure of Kerma together. They need each other because Jack now has two of the bracelets needed to open the door of the labyrinth where the treasure is hidden, while Christophe holds the third.
The two ships sail across the Atlantic Ocean. One night, Amenirdis comes to Jack's cabin and they make love, finally admitting their feelings to each other. Amenirdis knows that no woman could tie Jack Sparrow down to home, but he cares about her, in his own way, and that's enough for her. She also tells Jack that he would be rewarded for bringing her and her brother home, but the Heart of Zerzura, the jewel which Jack wants for himself, must stay on Kerma, because it's the only thing that keeps Kerma and its people protected from those who want to esnlave them. The ships finally reach the magical fog that hides Kerma from the outside world and pass through it.
The three Zerzurans come ashore and Shabako becomes the new pharaoh. The next day, he announces his plan to free all the slaves on Kerma in one year. He also makes Amenirdis his grand vizier, the Prime Minister. A day later, Amenirdis, Jack, and Christophe enter the labyrinth. After defeating several monsters, they find the treasure room, where Christophe takes Amenirdis hostage and forces Jack to give him the most valuable part of the treasure, the Heart of Zerzura. A lion suddenly appears and Christophe escapes with the Heart and a bag of treasure. However, the lion is actually the god Apedemak himself, and the "Heart" which Christophe took is actually a worthless rock, magically made to look like the real heart. Jack takes some of the treasure and he and Amenirdis return to the palace. A few hours later, Jack returns to the Wench and the ship sails through the fog again. Amenirdis casts a magical spell that makes the entire crew fall asleep and forget that they ever saw the island. Jack and Amenirdis bid farewell to each other and she returns to the island.
A few hours later, Christophe boards the Wench, after being deposed as captain and left in a small boat in the middle of the ocean by his own crew when he killed his first mate who refused Christophe's order to sail back to Kerma when the rogues discovered that the Heart of Zezura was fake. Jack doesn't want Christophe on his ship and they enagage in a fierce duel, which Jack ultimately wins, killing Christophe and finally avenging Don Rafael's death. The Wicked Wench sails back for Calabar.
- "If you make this one trip for me, Captain Sparrow, and thus make it possible for me to honor Lord Penwallow’s request, then I will promise you, on my word as a gentleman, that I won’t ever ask you to do it again. If I had another captain to take this cargo I would hire him, but, as you can see for yourself, I don’t."
- ―Cutler Beckett
In Calabar, Cutler Beckett doesn't believe Jack's story of haunted fogbanks and a crew that magically fell asleep. However, all of the Wench's crewmen confirm Jack's story. The island of Kerma was nowhere to be found, and the three Zerzurans just disappeared from the ship. Seeing his hopes of becoming a nobleman ruined, Beckett decides to punish Jack. He forces him to take a cargo of slaves onaboard the Wench and transport them to the Bahamas for Lord Penwallow. The Wench sails for the New World for the last time.
As the Wicked Wench sails near Kerma, Jack decides to free the slaves, leave them on the island, steal the Wench from Beckett, and become a pirate again. The Wench arrives to Kerma and the imprisoned Africans are freed. The Wench sails west but a few days later she is captured by a fleet of five EITC ships. One of the ships brings Jack back to Calabar, where he is thrown into a prison, while others try to find Kerma.
A month later, Jack and his first mate Robbie Greene are brought within sight of the Wicked Wench about a mile off the coast of Western Africa. Beckett and his operative, Ian Mercer, brand Jack with a "P" brand on his right forearm, marking him forever as a pirate. Beckett orders his ship to fire on the anchored Wench, using inflammable "carcass charges." Seeing the Wench in flames, Jack breaks free from his captors, dives into the ocean and swims for his ship, hoping to save her. But it is to late, and Jack sinks with his ship. Neither dead nor alive, Jack ends up on the path to the Land of the Dead and speaks the magical incantation that summons Davy Jones, the Lord of the sea. Jack and Jones make a deal, in exchange for resurrection of the Wicked Wench and thirteen years of captaincy, Jack promises his soul to Jones.
The Black Pearl
Some time later, Jack is in Tortuga, where he just recruited a crew. He leads them to the resurrected Wicked Wench, whose hull and sails are now completely black. Jack renames his ship the Black Pearl and sails for Shipwreck Island.
- Hades (First mentioned)
- Ra (First mentioned)
- Sekhemt (First mentioned)
- Jesus Christ (First mentioned)
- Bast (First mentioned)
- Horus (First mentioned)
Organizations and titles
- East India Trading Company
- Brethren of the Coast
- Templars (First mentioned)
- First Mate
- Second Mate
- Third Mate
- Pirate Lord
- Keeper of the Code
- British Royal Navy (Mentioned only)
- French Royal Navy (Indirect mention only)
- Spanish Royal Navy (Indirect mention only)
- Portuguese Royal Navy (Indirect mention only)
- Heart of Zerzura (First appearance)
- Treasure of Zerzura (First appearance)
- Treasure of Cortés (Mentioned only)
- Pound sterling
- Pirata Codex
- My Lyfe Amonge the Pyrates (First appearance)
- Jack Sparrow's compass
- Cutler Beckett's cane
- Wicked Wench (First appearance)
- Fair Wind (First appearance)
- Sentinel (First appearance)
- Cobra (First mentioned)
- Koldunya (First appearance)
- Venganza (First appearance)
- Marlin (First mentioned)
- Troubadour (First appearance)
- La Vipère (First appearance)
- Molly Dover (First mentioned)
- Flying Dutchman (Mentioned only)
- Centurion (Mentioned only)
- Dutch flute (First appearance)
- Polly (monkey) (First mentioned)
- Polly (parrot) (First mentioned)
- Shark (Mentioned only)
- Siren (Mentioned only)
- Mermaid (Mentioned only)
- Crocodile (Mentioned only)
- The Price of Freedom was written by A.C. Crispin, an author known for creating fascinating "backstory" for media icons such as Han Solo (in The Han Solo Trilogy) and Mr. Spock's father, Sarek (in the novel of the same name). When an editor working for Disney was seeking an author to write a novel dealing with the backstory of Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, they contacted Crispin's agent and contracted her to write the book after reading The Han Solo Trilogy.
- According to A. C. Crispin, the original book she was contracted to write was the story of the initial quest to Isla de Muerta, where Hector Barbossa's mutiny occurred. But Disney changed its mind and told her to go further back in time. Despite this, Crispin had at least one full outline written for that book.
- The idea of how Jack Sparrow became the Black Pearl (formerly the Wicked Wench) was briefly mentioned in promotional material for the second Pirates film, Dead Man's Chest. However, only the part from Cutler Beckett giving Jack a pirate brand as well as Jack's deal with Davy Jones was mentioned. The Price of Freedom expanded that story to new heights.
- The original cover of the book was intended to have Jack Sparrow on the helm of a ship, but the current generic ship was decidedly used as the cover purportedly because Johnny Depp did not want his likeness to be used.
- The Price of Freedom at Amazon.com
- Excerpts from The Price of Freedom - A.C. Crispin - Science Fiction Fantasy Author