Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra

The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra

Jason Fry
For ages 9 to 12
HarperCollins, 2013   ISBN: 978-0062230201

More than four centuries ago members of the Hashoone family left Earth and settled on Calisto, one of the moons of Jupiter. There they mined minerals and frozen gases, becoming wealthy enough to build a compound which came to be called Darklands. After a century the mine was exhausted and Lodovico Hashoone took “a desperate gamble.” He fitted out old ore boats with weapons and converted them into pirate spaceships. For many generations the Hashoones were pirates but then times changed. Diocletia Hashoone signed on with the Jovian Union as a privateer and now she, her father Huff, her husband Mavey, and her children Tycho, Yana and Carlo travel across space in their ship the Shadow Comet looking for prizes that they can claim under their letter of marque. They target merchant ships from Earth while they dodge pirates and Earth’s warships.

One day the Comet comes across a ship from Earth. Tycho leads the boarding party and is eager to prove that he is worthy of one day succeeding his mother as the captain of the Comet. He is therefore very disappointed when a man on the ship announces that he is a diplomat from Earth and therefore the ship he is travelling in, the Ceph-Two, cannot be taken as a prize by privateers. Diplomats usually travel in luxury and this diplomat’s presence on the beaten up old freighter does not seem quite right. The fact that the diplomat seems to have very little idea of what he is doing also suggests that something is amiss. It is decided that the matter will be settled in the admiralty court on Ceres.

On Ceres the diplomat and captain of the Ceph-Two appear in court with a very slick man, Threece Suud, who was recently sent to Ceres to serve in Earth’s consulate. He defends Earth’s right to use any craft they wish to convey their diplomats around space, but the judge still does to understand why Earth would choose such a blatantly unsuitable person to be a diplomat. The court is dismissed for three weeks so that the judge can look into the matter further.

While they are discussing matters at a café, Yana sees a man whom she saw talking to Suud in court. The man is keeping company with a rough group of men, men who look like they could be pirates, slavers or worse. Yana decides that she needs to find out more about Suud’s aide. She and Tycho follow him, and Yana is able to take a picture of him before she and her twin brother are called away.

While they wait to find out the admiralty court’s decision, the Comet takes on a job for the Jovian Defense Ministry. Sixteen Jovian merchant ships have gone missing in the Cybele asteroids and the ministry wants the Hashoones to find out what happened to them. No one is particularly keen on doing the mission but they will get a stipend, a share of whatever they find, and a promise that they will not encounter any problems when it is time to renew their letter of marque.

Doggedly the Hashoones search among the asteroids and they find nothing, until one day they pick up an ion signature. When they see the vessel Huff identifies the ship as the Hydra, a spaceship belonging to a notorious pirate called Thoadbone Mox. Hiding their identity they talk to Thoadbone and when he threatens to board them, they are able to evade capture. Just in time.

As they head back to Ceres, Yana takes a look at the recording of the visual communication that they had with Mox, and she realizes that one of the men with him on board his ship is the same man she and Tycho followed after their court appearance. Why on earth would a lawyer’s aide be on a pirate ship in the Cybele asteroids? Something very odd is going on and Yana, Tycho and their family need to find out what that something is.

This wonderful title brings together pirates, space travel and a mystery to give young readers a wonderful bookish adventure. Though the setting is not one that exists, as yet, there are similarities between Tycho’s world and our own. Readers will be interested to see how Tycho, though he is only twelve years old, is given much responsibility, which he has had to earn through study and real life experience.