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Literature / Knaves on Waves

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A man's words reflect his soul.

The Tides of Redemption. History's greatest race. Every year, pirates, thieves and scoundrels gather, coming from all corners of the world in order to claim its vaunted prize. Total amnesty for their countless crimes.Trigger and his crew are no exception, yet to claim victory, they will have to survive a voyage that few would even attempt. Giants, sea monsters, abominations, and wizards. Perilous seas and enemy crews. These alone would be danger enough, yet Trigger has a past that is intent on catching up with him, and swift as his vessel may be, it might not be fast enough.The ultimate journey is about to begin.

Knaves on Waves is an epic fantasy novel, first published in 2021. The debut work of Jim Parfitt, it follows the adventures of Captain Trigger and his crew as they attempt to win the Tides of Redemption, an annual race which promises amnesty for any crimes committed by the victorious pirate crew. As the blurb suggests, merely surviving the journey is perilous enough, with the voyage boasting several good ol' fashioned fantasy tropes.

Knaves on Waves contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Most of the crew had shitty parents, but Jacques' adoptive father really takes the cake, having sold Jacques into childhood prostitution, and then later pit fights.
  • Action Girl: Sheridan is easily the toughest member of the crew
  • Affably Evil: Many of the pirates count, particularly Carnage.
  • Anti-Hero: They may be more civilized than most, but the protagonists are still pirates.
  • Anti-Villain: Surprisingly, Carnage acquires shades of this.
  • Ax-Crazy: Carnage, along with most of his crew
  • Badass Longcoat: Trigger is never seen without his faded naval coat.
  • Badass Normal: It's a story about a race between pirates. Badasses abound, yet Trigger, Sheridan, Jacques and Magwa are probably the standout examples.
  • Battle-Halting Duel: While not a battle per se, the showdown between Jacques and Hargrave is so anticipated that the entire race halts to watch. They even print out posters.
  • The Berserker: Carnage and his crew most definitely qualify, to the point where they'll sing a shanty while ripping off some heads.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Trigger is a true gentleman, polite and kind to all he meets. He is also an experienced Captain and warrior, who will absolutely demolish you should you attempt to harm his crew.
  • Big Bad: While there are countless enemy crews competing in the race, ultimately it is the Empress who threatens Trigger the most.
  • Big Fun: Carnage may be dangerously violent, yet he's also the life of the party, and generally the largest person attending.
  • Big Good: Somehow, this is what Trigger is shaping up to become.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A few of the Blackbird's crewmen pull off what may perhaps be the clumsiest example ever put to paper.
  • Black Comedy: Plenty.
  • Blinded by Rage: Happens to Carnage so often that he's aware of the flaw, and recruits others to serve as his negotiators.
  • Body Horror: Whatever that thing the crew encounters in the mist may be, it definitely counts.
  • Break the Cutie: Hoo boy. Barnaby may not be cute, exactly, but that doesn't stop the universe from hating him.
  • Break the Haughty: We can't quite be sure, but by the end of the novel, Jacques appears to have been knocked down a peg.
  • Broken Bird: Barnaby is pretty much dead inside, once all is said and done.
  • Butt-Monkey: The crew's general attitude to Barnaby. He holds the same opinion.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Carnage does his best to play this part.
  • Character Development: In spades, though particularly in Barnaby's case.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Trigger's aim, Sheridan's strength and Jacques' swordsmanship could all qualify.
  • The Chessmaster: Numerous examples, though Jacques and Sheridan are the two main players.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Magwa observes several rituals and beliefs that don't quite make sense to the rest of the crew. Doesn't stop him being an absolute badass, however.
  • Cultured Badass: Many of the Captains count, though Trigger and Jacques would be the most prominent. Jacques makes a very deliberate attempt to appear this way, to the point that he puts on a fake accent. Surprisingly, Carnage also falls into this trope, despite first appearances.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Trigger's crew isn't the brightest.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: A fair few pirates end up tumbling into the void, doomed to fall for all eternity, or at least until they starve to death.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Any time a human attempts to fight a Thrallkin.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Barnaby and Sheridan are shining examples, though much of the crew partake.
  • Deal with the Devil: Several are necessary throughout the course of the voyage. Trigger particularly regards his deal with Thodurk as this.
  • Determinator: Nothing, absolutely nothing, will keep down Trigger or Jacques.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Whatever that thing they encounter in the mist may be. Thodurk hints at the existence of more, intent on invading the Empire.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Carnage may be a mass-murdering lunatic, but even he can see that the Empress must be stopped.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Knaves on Waves is a book about pirates. Who'd have guessed?
  • Faceā€“Heel Turn: Executed in stunning fashion by Jacques.
  • Freudian Excuse: The vast majority of pirates have a damn good reason for choosing that life.
  • From Bad to Worse: Navigating a series of small channels that spill out into an endless void is dangerous enough. Now add in a battle... and no rudder.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Trigger is the kindest character in the novel. He will not hesitate to butcher you and your entire crew, should you give him a reason.
  • The Hero: Handled in an interesting way. Carnage desperately wants to be this, but knows his nature and upbringing make him far too volatile. As such, he personally selects Trigger to take up the mantle instead, based on his displays of courage and kindness.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: More than a few are made to ensure the crew's survival.
  • Ideal Hero: trigger definitely counts, to the point it's acknowledged and exploited In-Universe.
  • Just in Time: Almost subverted by the crewmen, who can't quite pick their moment on the Swaying Deck.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Jacques definitely qualifies.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Jacques again.
  • Male Gaze: Directly subverted. At one point, Sheridan strips in front of Trigger, who only shows interest in her many tattoos. Sheridan even remarks how unusual this is.
  • Master Swordsman: Jacques is considered the best in the world. His only competition is Captain Hargrave, and the promise of a duel between them garners almost as much attention as the race itself.
  • Large Ham: Carnage, due to most of his education coming from grandiose plays.
  • Meaningful Name: Trigger and Carnage both definitely merit their names, for a plethora of reasons.
  • Mind Screw: What happens to anyone unfortunate enough to listen to The Howlers.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Approaching anyone named "Captain Carnage" is simply asking for trouble.
  • Nice Guy: Trigger is gentleman to anyone he meets..
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Carnage is a genetically engineered super soldier. He's also a pirate.
  • Obviously Evil: Carnage is a giant, crimson-skinned killer, who sails on a ship covered with the corpses of his fallen foes.
  • Redemption Quest: What many crewmen speculate motivates Trigger.
  • Running Gag: "That's half-rations."
  • Sequel Hook: A huge one.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Could perhaps apply to anyone who tries to take on Carnage.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Applies to Barnaby before the novel reaches its end.
  • True Companions: Trigger and Sheridan will never give up on each other. Neither will Barnaby and Magwa.
  • The Unfettered: Carnage will free his people and bring down the Empire, regardless of how much slaughter or damage he needs to inflict. unusually, he's actually aware of how unreasonable he is, and thus recruits others to try and keep him in line. This meets with mixed success.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pretty much everyone's reaction to Trigger teaming up with Carnage.