Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life and Times of Jacky Faber
by L.A. Meyer
This was the book I wanted to read, and I loved it.
I’ve been an avid Bloody Jack fan for several years, now, along with my wife, who discovered the first book while searching for pirate-themed books for me (I have a bit of a thing for the pirate life and the yo-ho-ho.) and found that she loved these as much as I do. There are not many characters in the world like Jacky Faber: so human, so likeable, and so very, very frustrating. I have for years now felt just like Amy Trevelyne and Ezra Pickering, and I have nothing but the deepest admiration for Mr. John Higgins, the unflappable, dependable, and eternally reliable friend to our dear girl.
Jacky Faber makes me wish I had done one-hundredth of the things she has done — and at the same time, she makes me very glad that I have never suffered one-hundredth of the things she has suffered. That’s why I love these books: I love the adventures, love the chances Jacky takes (even while I keep saying to myself, “No, Jacky, no — for the love of God, why do you keep doing this?”), and I love the way reality comes crashing down on her, again and again — and yet she never gives up. And in this book, here she goes again: within the first fifty pages, she is on the run from the law (Not an uncommon occurrence) and she hides out, meeting yet another historical figure — in this case, one of my personal favorites, even though Meyer had to fudge the history a bit to make it happen. But it is subtly done, this time, possibly because of that; and I can’t blame him for taking this opportunity, because if I could write that person into my story, I’d do it in a heartbeat. (I don’t want to spoil who it is because it is subtly done, and the moment when the hints build up to the epiphany was fun for me, and I want it to be fun for everyone who hasn’t read it yet.)
Jacky also joins the circus, in this book. Because Jacky does that: Jacky takes the opportunities that the rest of us would shy away from, and she lives out the dreams that all of us cherish, up to and including running away with the circus and being, at the same time, a Russian princess. Hell, it almost made me want to be a Russian princess in the circus — though I don’t think I should do the fan dance.
And the end of this one — hoo boy, the end. It is the end, the last book, and it is the finish of Jacky’s adventures. I won’t spoil this one either. I genuinely didn’t know until the final moments which way it was going to go: Meyer managed to do it perfectly, with as much suspense as any novel I think I have read. It made it hard to put it down.
And I am truly sorry that I now have to put these down. The saddest part of this book is not within its pages: it is on the dust jacket, because now the biography of the wonderful L.A. Meyer says “was.” You are a loss to the world, sir, both the world of letters and the world of imagination. Your books were a gift to us all, and I am deeply grateful for them. I may have put them down for now, but rest assured: I will pick them up again and again. Thank you for that. Rest in peace. You and Miss Mary Jacky Faber.