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The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear April 13, 2008

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Books, Reviews.

This is what it’s like being Captain Bluebear:

You find yourself adrift off the continent of Zamonia, rescued and raised by a band of mini-pirates, later abandoned on an island of Hobgoblins and thereafter fighting for dear survival on a carnivorous island. You’ll make a good friend in a pterodactyl and erstwhile patrolling Reptilian Rescuer. You end up enrolled under the tutelage of a Nocturnomath with seven brains, who will in embed an entire encyclopedia in your mind. When not running for dear life from a giant spider or traveling through dimensions or across deserts your travels leave you trapped in a tornado, if not somewhere between a Bollog’s head with the best bad idea you’ve ever met. Once freed, you make your way to the island of Atlantis (which isn’t really an island), making a name for yourself as one of the city’s greatest liars. In the end, it’s also possible you’ll find yourself unraveling the secrets to a mysterious ship, which so happens to contain the deadliest substance in the universe.

Obviously it’s a rough kind of life, which is why it’s good to have twenty-seven of them to spare. Better still if half of them are spent enduring all these. This much Walter Moers would have readers believe in his clever book, The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear.

Succinctly, it is a fairytale that will appeal to the child in every adult. As such, it is clearly not something that will appeal to some readers in and of itself, what with its necessarily over-the-top plot, childish illustrations (by the author himself, no less), and occasionally excessive narrative (particularly towards the end, where the prose seems to go on and on without end!). Yet taken for what it is, there is plenty of good clean fun to be had in Captain Bluebear. It is escapist entertainment, but of that rare variety where “whimsical flight of fancy” and “excellent diversion” meet to make for an enjoyable reading experience.



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