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Imagine a pirate ship with hidden passages stocked with designer clothing, a massive library with built-in bookcases, beautiful porcelain place settings, and a crew that resolves disputes “as a crew.” It is now a reality thanks to the series Our Flag Means Death! And I just discovered it. I know. I’m late to the boarding party.
Stede Bonnett, the so-called Gentleman Pirate, enters. He embarks on his ship The Revenge because he is dissatisfied with his comfortable, land-owning life at home. He dresses up, reads in his library, and has a people-friendly management style that makes his crew yearn for adventure while they’re on board.
Enter Blackbeard, whose name is already horrifying. He’s wearing leather, has a gray beard (well, it’s gray), and is bored. Such a bore. The two partner up to exchange knowledge in order to benefit from each other after becoming fascinated by this Gentleman Pirate’s unique perspective on piracy. The two develop a closer bond than they had anticipated as they engage in swordplay, storytelling, and scare tactics together.
The cast that surrounds them is similarly entertaining, with a gay couple, a non-binary character, and lots of antics. This program is a must-see because it has all the comedy you’d expect from a David Jenkins production and because it’s so much fun to watch Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi in the major parts!
Here are some novels like Our Flag Means Death to pick up to get you through it if you’ve just watched episode 10 and are looking for something to keep you occupied while we wait for confirmation of a season two.
ON A LEE SHORE
BY ELIN GREGORY
Captain Christopher “Kit” Penrose accepts a position as a valet for an elderly British diplomat after losing his ship. But shortly after setting sail, the ship is attacked by pirates, and he is held hostage on Captain La Griffe’s ship. Kit struggles with being on the wrong side of the law as he gets used to working with these pirates and eluding the navy. But he is more intrigued by his new captain than he will confess. He learns more about the captain as well as the pirate culture and the attraction they appear to have for one another. If you like the morality debates and the pirate romance in Our Flag Means Death, you’ll love this.
IN DEEPER WATERS
BY F. T. LUKENS
The majority of Prince Tal’s life has been spent in hiding within the castle’s walls. But now it’s time for him to travel with his brother on his coming-of-age tour around the kingdom. They come to a ship on their voyage that is carrying a prisoner. Athlen draws Tal’s attention, so when he jumps overboard and vanishes, Tal feels let down. But the stranger must repay the favor when pirates kidnap Tal in an attempt to learn his magical secret. This charming, sea-based high fantasy romance is ideal for anyone looking for a comparable experience in the YA genre.
BY REBECCA COHEN
Captain Daniel Horton serves in the Queen’s Navy and prioritizes his responsibilities over his future and family. However, his crew rebels against him and throws him overboard since they don’t like the way he leads. Captain Merric, a skillful pirate who secretly yearns for a calm life, shows up. After pulling the man from the sea, Captain Merric realizes it was a flashback from his past. Once, Daniel and Merric were deeply in love, but things got in the way. Can they move past their past now that they are back together, or will what occurred keep them apart forever? Pick this up if you enjoyed the themes of yearning for a different life in Our Flag Means Death!
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE
BY BENJAMIN ALIRE SÁENZ
Aristotle, sometimes known as Ari, is incapable of swimming. His attitude on life is negatively impacted by his self-doubt, and his brother is in jail. Dante is open to the world in ways Ari can’t understand, loves poetry, and can swim. They come together and develop a connection that inspires them to consider their aspirations. Check out this book if you enjoyed the happy/grumpy vibe of Our Flag Means Death or wish exploring identity through metaphors of touching water in a modern YA setting.
THE MERMAID, THE WITCH, AND THE SEA
BY MAGGIE TOKUDA-HALL
Flora adopts the persona of a Floridian and joins the crew of a pirate ship in order to leave the streets (and prevent famine). The ship then stages an uprising while pretending to be carrying passengers and kidnaps the travelers. On one such trip, Lady Evelyn is traveling to an arranged marriage that she dreads and is fervently trying to avoid. Floridan is tasked with keeping an eye on Evelyn, and despite having very different upbringings and histories, the two unanticipatedly become close. This one is for you if you enjoyed Jim’s persona, the conflict between aristocrat and pirate values, and the show’s surprising bonds.
PRINCELESS: RAVEN THE PIRATE PRINCESS
BY JEREMY WHITLEY, ARTIST ROSY HIGGINS, AND ARTIST TED BRANDT
Raven will inherit the Pirate King’s dominion because her father is the Pirate King. But her brothers removed her from her proper position and locked her up in a tower. She is now on the hunt for retribution and requires a crew to carry it out. Here come the sly thieves Sunshine, Ximena, their navigator, and Jay, their expert in explosives. These fierce, diverse women prove that piracy is not just a man’s game as they take to the waters. You’ll adore this if you enjoyed the fun and swashbuckling in OFMD.
A CLASH OF STEEL: A TREASURE ISLAND REMIX
BY C.B. LEE
When she finds a pendant her father gave her before he passed away, Xiang, who was raised in a small, isolated town, finds a clue to a hidden treasure. It’s really terrible that Anh, a girl, snatched it. The two make a bargain and head out to sea in search of the legendary pirate Zheng Yi Sao’s long-lost treasure. The themes of new family, seafaring adventure, and unexpected love are all present in this sapphic retelling of Treasure Island, which also features elements from Our Flag Means Death. Test it out!
HOW TO FIND A PRINCESS
BY ALYSSA COLE
Makeda is not interested in being a princess. She lost her job and her girlfriend on the same day, and she’s too busy coping with the fallout. She is reluctant to travel to Ibarania to assert her right as the heir there when investigator Beznaria appears and tries to persuade her to do so. She accepts to board the intriguing investigator’s boat after her grandma is threatened. This is one of the books like Our Flag Means Death you need to read since it successfully combines the grumpy/sunshine dynamic, seafaring adventures, and LGBT romance.
THE WISTERIA SOCIETY OF LADY SCOUNDRELS
BY INDIA HOLTON
The members of the Wisteria Society are tea-drinking Victorian women who are also skilled at piracy, blackmail, and theft. When Ned Lightbourne appears and declares he has been given the go-ahead to kill Cecilia by his employer, Captain Morvath, Cecilia is trying to persuade her elders that she is ready to become one of their members. Ned, however, is unable to bring himself to kill his intended victim, so the two work together to establish her rightful membership in the Wisteria Society. This wacky, action-packed historical fantasy features all the goofy fun of OFMD as well as hijinks.
CINNAMON AND GUNPOWDER
BY ELI BROWN
When pirates abduct Chef Owen “Wedge” Wedgewood, he is unprepared for the captain’s demand that he prepare a fine supper for her every Sunday in exchange for his survival. The enquired-about captain? Hannah Mabbot is a notoriously evil person who is cruel in her antics. Wedge, however, has little little to work with on the ship. Their Sunday dinners result in more conversation and mutual understanding as they are compelled to improvise and accompany the pirate on his exploits. Wedge is curious about the Captain who imprisoned him despite his efforts to the contrary. Fans of OFMD must read about this middle-aged odd couple at sea.
While we wait for a season two, I’m hoping that one of these excellent novels, like Our Flag Means Death, will help fill the vacuum left by the finale.
Have you checked out any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.