I am emphatically not an expert on pirate fiction, but I have read a few and like some of them. Susan Keogh's The Prodigal: A Novel is excellent as is Mark Keating's Fight for Freedom (Patrick Devlin), both of which I would recommend unreservedly to any lover of nautical fiction. I wish I could say the same for Tomerlin's The Devil's Fire ...
I can remember not a single description of ship or sail handling - movement just sort of happens without any apparent involvement from the crew. Nautical terms are sparse: 'main mast', 'capstan' and one or two others are overshadowed by 'floor', 'ceiling', 'wall', 'upstairs' etc. Characterization is poor: it takes far too long to develop any sort of individuality, and at no time could I find anyone remotely likeable, or who I felt any sympathy for, even the principal victim! I also found the plot to be weak: endless fighting and squabbling amongst themselves, but very little else. Had this book been condensed to a few chapters opening book 2 [The Devil's Tide, which I assume continues the story from where this leaves off], then it may have been more successful.
Finally, the author seems to delight in emphasizing extremes of sadistic brutality and viciousness, as well as every gory detail of wounds inflicted, which is not something I enjoy reading about for any length, though I appreciate some people do. Violence is endemic to pirate fiction, but Keogh and Keating demonstrate that it can be done with a lot more finesse.
I nearly quit at halfway, but carried on to the end out of some sense of duty I suppose. I didn't feel involved much, and I didn't really care what happened to the characters except to know how it finished. By no means the worst book I've ever read, but I didn't find enough to want to continue with the series.
Description of: The Devil's Fire
Author: Matt Tomerlin