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Pirate Book

The History of Pirates
by Angus Konstam

The History of Pirates is a well organized primer on pirates from ancient times to the present day.

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What Readers
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“S.R. Staley transports you back to a time when the flapping of canvas, the roar of ships' cannons, and the flash of cutlasses are seen through the smell of gunpowder and smoke. The Pirate of Panther Bay, the young Isabella, prowls the seas. She is dogged by a Spanish man-o-war commanded by a dashing young Spaniard who also commands her heart. A great adventure romance!”
-- Robert, Chapel Hill, NC

About The Pirate of Panther Bay

So, you want to know more about The Pirate of Panther Bay and what weÂ’ve planned for the rest of the series?

The series chronicles the exploits of Isabella, an escaped slave who leads a band of pirates against Spanish colonists in the Caribbean Sea in 1780. In the first book -- The Pirate of Panther Bay -- readers are introduced to Isabella, the lead character and captain of the pirate ship the Red Tide in 1780. They also meet Juan Carlos, a Spanish army captain dispatched as an advisor to the Spanish colonial governor in the Caribbean. They start out as enemies but soon realize their have more common interests as Isabella fights the corruption of the Spanish colonists on the Caribbean Sea.

If you're ready to ride the turbulent seas of a swashbuckling adventure, with a splash of romance, The Pirate of Panther Bay is for you! This is a series unlike anything you've read or are likely to read--fast, adventurous, suspenseful, and exciting. See for yourself why one adult reader called it "a real page turner" and another teenage male called Isabella "hot". (Don't worry parents, she's not that hot!)

Here's what others are saying about the book:

If you can handle a little more information without spoiling the story, read on. WARNING! If you like suspense, stop reading this page!

Reader Testimonials

Here's what readers are saying about The Pirate of Panther Bay:

    "Part adventure story, part history lesson, but 100 percent pirate. Staley has crafted a tale that will stir your emotions and your mind. Whether you're young or old, The Pirate of Panther Bay will forever change the way you think about buccaneers."
    -- Tim Bete, Author of Guide to Pirate Parenting, and director of the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop

    “S.R. Staley transports you back to a time when the flapping of canvas, the roar of ships' cannons, and the flash of cutlasses are seen through the smell of gunpowder and smoke. The Pirate of Panther Bay, the young Isabella, prowls the seas. She is dogged by a Spanish man-o-war commanded by a dashing young Spaniard who also commands her heart. A great adventure romance!”
    -- Robert, Chapel Hill, NC

    “The Pirate of Panther Bay is a book with a pirate heroine that reminds the reader of Anne Bonny, Cheng I Sao, and Mary Read. Isabella and the characters that surround her are very developed, and the sword fights leave you breathless. Add that to the intense love story, and you just might feel the rocking of a ship while you read!”
    -- Morgan F., 14, Sarasota, Florida

    “The Pirate of Panther Bay was so exciting I didn’t want to put it down. Isabella’s character is different from anything else I’ve read. She’s a girl pirate who can take care of herself!”
    -- Carly J., 16, Kettering, Ohio

    “The writing and the storyline is tight and well developed...Staley has done a wonderful job of weaving historical elements into the story line while keeping them relevant and interesting.”
    -- Colleen L., New York, NY

    “The Pirate of Panther Bay is an engaging swashbuckler that leaves the reader wanting more at the end.”
    -- Heidy C., Bellbrook, Ohio

    “The Pirate of Panther Bay is a fun and exciting adventure book that the whole family can enjoy reading. I enjoyed the suspense of being on a pirate ship.”
    -- Alex C., 15, Bellbrook, Ohio.

    “With each turn of the page, you are drawn in by the adventure and romance.”
    -- Gary S., West Milton, Ohio

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Reviewed by: John Lehman

I love a novel that starts with a hand drawn map. We, as readers, are immediately on a quest. The other great thing about reading "The Pirate of Panther Bay" before going to sleep is you dream of pirates. How cool is that? In the case of this particular story the captain of the Marée Rouge is an eighteen-year-old woman (That's right, Jim Hawkins, a female pirate captain!) who takes a young Spanish noble prisoner six months after her lover has been murdered. "How could she be attracted to this boy? Santa Ana symbolized everything she fought against-slavery, privilege, plantations. What was she going to do?"

Because of this lovelorn central character the book sometimes seems more romantic novel than adventure yarn, but S.R. Staley puts plenty of zip into the action sequences. Here he masterfully captures a sword fight, building tension it seems hard to believe possible short of seeing it on a huge movie screen: "Again and again, the quartermaster attacked. Isabella parried, then thrust her tip forward in a feigned riposte, lulling the quartermaster into another powerful cut. She deflected each cut. First up, then down, then to the side. She watched him intently as the blade sliced through the air. Each arcing cut weaned a little more strength. She marveled at how he took the bait, time and time again. When he slowed to regroup, she would riposte or lunge, drawing him into another aggressive cut."

There's fine description plus conspiracies and colorful characters galore, but what I liked best was the irony of the story. In the first half Isabella, herself a former Creole slave, holds the young Spanish man prisoner. In the following fifty pages she becomes his prisoner, exploring some interesting psychological implications about control in male female relationships. We are at sea, literally and figuratively, and like the green waves, this adventure tale suggests multiple depths. But not to worry, there is also the requisite, rousing pirate-finale. Will Isabella fulfill her mother's strange prophecy? Will the two enemies somehow unite? And what about the infamous Yellow Jacket? "Full sail ahead! We'll see who's left standing at the end of the day."

I'm not sure who the market audience for this book might be. But I do know Robert Louis Stevenson would have loved this book. I sure did.

AllBooks Review
Date: 9/6/07
Reviewed by: Christi McEntyre

Perhaps inspired by the recent success of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, author S. R. Staley weaves a similar story of piracy and betrayal in the colonial West Indies of the sixteenth-century. The main character, a plucky eighteen-year old escaped slave girl by the name of Isabella, is the de facto captain of the pirate ship the Marée Rouge, commanding one of the most successful and feared crews in the Caribbean waters. Incidentally, the ship and its crew are not hers, but rather Jacob's, her recently murdered lover. Throughout the story, as Isabella slowly comes to terms with his death, she must prove her worth as a pirate captain to her crew, her confidantes, and her enemies, many of whom do not believe that a girl, especially a teenaged girl, should be privileged with such a command.

The main plot is an extension of Isabella's fight against Spanish colonialism in the West Indies. Since she still bears the scars of her enslavement on a Spanish-owned sugar plantation, her hatred is especially strong. Her goal, as with all pirates, is simply to live freely. Unfortunately for the Spanish, the pirate notion of freedom in this book coincides with an eradication of colonial control in the Caribbean. This is indeed a lofty goal, and while the slim two hundred pages of this book can only show the beginning of such a fight, they do provide an imaginative glimpse into an oppressed but resilient world.

As the novel begins, the reader is thrust into a world where Isabella has just failed her first attempted capture of an enemy ship, has taken on a Spanish prisoner, who she is strangely attracted to and reluctant to execute, and is completely clueless as to the unhappy state of her crew. Her trusted advisor, Jean-Michel, attempts to warn her about the crew's mutterings, and advises her to show decisive leadership to the crew by killing the prisoner, yet a mutinous uprising is unavoidable. Forced to run from her own men, Isabella's life becomes inextricably tied with that of the Spanish prisoner, and as she plots to retake her ship and regain control of the seas, she discovers wheels within wheels of conspiracy amidst the islandsÂ’ powers that be.

A swashbuckling tale of piracy, action, and romance, The Pirate of Panther Bay is a well-researched and entertaining trip into that same rum-soaked world which Disney has so recently popularized. It will surely entertain anyone with a zeal for pirate tales, even though there is no buried treasure involved. The romance is treated delicately enough to allow young adult readers to enjoy the story as well as adults, and there are enough sword-and-cutlass battles to excite anyone. In addition, the detail with which S. R. Staley describes the various types, styles, and weaponry of the ships, the swordsmanship and tactics of the numerous battles, and the complex observations into the intricate relations of the Spanish, French, English, and colonial natives, is sure to strike home with history buffs as well. Though the book is slim, the characters are well-realized and have enough depth to keep the reader wondering what will happen next. Female readers will especially enjoy the strength shown by the main character, whose inspiring spirit is worthy even of Hollywood. Though the ending is brief, it is set well for a sequel, and it is easily possible to envision of series of books surrounding young IsabellaÂ’s adventures.

Reader Views Kids
Date: 6/29/07
Reviewed by: Ian McCurley (age 13)
Available online at:

"The Pirate of Panther Bay" is expertly written by S.R. Staley and is a unique book with an old theme. The author makes use with mainly English, some Spanish, and some French for originality and to accentuate the characters. This book is for ages 13 and up. Its themes are pirates, ships, and romance. If you are looking for an expertly written, unique, and original pirate-themed book, then this is book for you.

Young Adult Romance Writers
Date: 6/19/07
Reviewed by: Lettetia
Available online at:

Overall (1-5): 4
Characters: Excellent, loved the characters!
Recommended?: Yes, It's a pretty good read.

Reviewer Comments: Step back into days of yore when pirates sailed the seas; cannons firing, cutlasses flashing, and adventure was everywhere you turned.

Isabella has inherited her first command from her lover; the Mar'ee Rouge, and already it is in jeopardy. Her prize, the Ana Maria has gotten away, sunk into the deep, along with its bounty. At the tender age of eighteen, Isabella is an escaped half-Creole slave woman who has seen far too much for her young years. But trouble is only beginning for Isabella; she and her trusty sidekick Jean-Michel will face many dangers and enemies before the voyage is over, and the Spanish prisoner she holds may soon turn out to be either her albatross or her savior.

A grand high-seas adventure any teen would love; many adults as well. Non-stop action and adventure highlight the story as we learn a little history as well as become close acquaintances of Isabella and her crew. The heartwarming love story is a nice touch and does not detract from the main plotline as Isabella and her crew aspires to be the "Scourge of the Spanish Main." The brilliant descriptive powers of author, S.R. Staley allows the reader to step back into bygone days and feel the intense emotions as the sword fights and cannon fire fuel the imagination. This reader would very easily recommend The Pirate of Panther Bay to anyone who loves a grand pirate adventure. Very nice blend of history and adventure!

Pirates and Privateers
Date: 4/23/07
Reviewed by: Cindy Vallar
Available online at:

After the captain's murder, Isabella finds herself the new captain of a pirate ship. She has all the qualifications and a good right-hand man in Quartermaster Jean-Michel, but when the vessel they attack blows up, doubt assails her. Combined with her insistence that they take Juan Carlos Lopez de Santa Ana prisoner and the loss of the prospective treasure, Isabella finds herself in a precarious situation. Her men are unhappy, and she is strangely attracted to Santa Ana, a Spaniard – her enemy.

All should go well once they return to Panther Pay, but a group of her men – in league with a villainous pirate captain – stage a mutiny while most of the crew is ashore. Trapped on board her ship, Isabella must figure out how she and Jean-Michel can escape the murderous thugs. Gaining their freedom should end most of their troubles, but instead, they just begin. Someone betrays Isabella to the Spaniards, who imprison and flog her to within an inch of her life before she is scheduled to be hanged. Rescue comes from an unlikely source, and once recovered, she must track down those who betrayed her.

This adventurous tale takes a circuitous journey that remains true to the real world of pirates and Spain's desire to reign over the New World. The reasons and circumstances for Isabella being captain are plausible, but at times her insecurity and obsession with the past are overdone. Some readers may find the demise of the villainous pirate captain somewhat anticlimactic. While Isabella's attraction to a Spaniard seems strange based on her life experiences so far, it is rewarding to find a Spaniard who isn't portrayed as the enemy. Santa Ana faces a perplexing dilemma between his loyalty to his king and his love for Isabella, and the author's resolving of this conflict may be less than satisfying to the more romantic reader, but these two characters – so alike, yet so different – have no other choice.

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The Characters

Isabella. At 18, most people wouldn’t think about running a pirate ship. But, as an escaped slave of mixed race decent, Isabella doesn’t have much to lose in 1780. She would either be sent to the gallows—plantation owners don’t like uppity slaves—or sent back to the sugarcane fields. But, as you’ll find out in future books, neither of those options are very appealing. Of course, at 18 she’s hardly a seasoned pirate. And she has aspirations far greater than the rogue ways of pirates in the West Indies. She’s a survivor. She’s got lots of courage, and that comes in handy because she hasn’t figured out life yet. Oh, and there’s the prophecy her mom kept telling her about before she left the plantation….

Juan Carlos. He’s the mixed up 20 something army officer that’s sent by Spain’s King Charles III to mix it up in the Caribbean. He’s a bit of a pompous a**s—well you get the picture. But he’s smart. That may be his saving grace. Certainly Isabella would have gotten rid of him early if he wasn’t. (But, then we wouldn’t have much of a book if he had done that either.) Juan Carlos may learn the most in the first book, but he’s no match for Isabella courage, tenacity and survival instinct.

Jean-Michel. He’s an old codger—35 years old. And French. His background is a bit of a mystery, but he’s not your run-of-the-mill pirate. He’s also old for a pirate of the day. Most pirates didn’t last more than four or five years—it was a dangerous and reckless life in reality (although Long John Silver in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island was 50 years old). Jean-Michel is Isabella’s confidant, and about as close as we can get to a father figure. Still, he’s awfully young to be the father of an 18 year old! Suffice it to say, Isabella depends on him. Jean-Michel, however, needs Isabella just as much.

Jacob. HeÂ’s important, but heÂ’s dead by the time the first book starts. It may seem odd that a dead man has such an important role, but youÂ’ll understand when you read the book. He was a real swashbuckler. A disillusioned privateer who couldnÂ’t quite make it as a revolutionary in the American colonies. For Isabella, his American roots may be his saving grace, because Jean-Michel canÂ’t stand the English or the Spanish.

Roberto Maria Rodriguez. Every good book needs an honest to goodness villain. And the Viceroy (Governor) of the West Indies fits the bill. HeÂ’s clever, conniving, and ruthless. LetÂ’s just say he and Isabella donÂ’t get along.

Maria. SheÂ’s clever, conniving, and ruthless, just like her father the viceroy. SheÂ’s also beautiful and worthy competitor to Isabella. If only Juan Carlos knewÂ….

Captain Smith (a.k.a. Yellow Jacket). Boy, as if we didnÂ’t have enough clever, conniving, and ruthless evil doers, we had to throw this guy in. But, this is a pirate story set in the days of pirates. There arenÂ’t many good guys riding the high seas, plundering ships and towns. And this guy is really a piece of work!

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Future Books

Isabella's adventures will continue beyond The Pirate of Panther Bay. Here's a preview of what's in store:

Book Two (Tortuga Bay): Set just six months after their climatic sea battle off Privateer Pointe on St. John Island (now part of the U.S. Virgin Islands), Isabella is fleeing the Spanish viceroy's fleet in her fight for her freedom, while Juan Carlos walks a thin line between loyalty to his King and his commitment to Isabella. Isabella finally learns the truth behind the prophecy during an unsettling voodoo ritual in the mountains of French Hispaniola (now Haiti), and she becomes enmeshed in the unsettling couldron of a brewing slave rebellion. The ending is as dramatic as it is important for the future of the Caribbean.

Book Three: Set in 1776, Isabella is a young slave in Hispaniola. Her chance meeting with a young American privateer sets in motion a series of events that climaxes in a slave revolt. The slave revolt thrusts Isabella into slave legend as a reluctant revolutionary, but at the cost of her relationships with the American.

Book Four: Isabella is befriended by a dashing young pirate following the slave revolt. He teaches her about fighting and the Pirate Code and, in the process, about love, honor and loyalty.

Book Five: Juan Carlos and Isabella unite and direct a pirate fleet against the Spanish in the Caribbean. In the process, they further solidify Isabella's legendary prowess as the Pirate of Panther Bay and the "godmother" of Latin American independence movements.

Additional novels and stories will be developed based on feedback, comments, and suggestions made by readers.

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About the Author

SR Staley ( is a researcher and writer living in Tallahassee, Florida where he also teaches in the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University. The Pirate of Panther Bay was inspired by a lifelong interest in the sea and an imagination, like so many others, sparked in part by his childhood experience on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. In addition to five nonfiction books on public policy, SR Staley has written three novels for young adult and middle grade readers (summaries can be found at He is an active member of the Tallahassee Writers Association, and he can often been seen bicycling onto campus or promoting his fellow authors at Downtown Marketplace on Saturdays. He earned his B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, his master's degree from Wright State University in Dayton, and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Contact him at

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