An army of shadows has been amassed. This Shadow Army has one goal: to find and kill all the Pirate Lords who rule over the Seven Seas. But the soothsayer Tia Dalma has other plans for the Lords and cannot allow them to be destroyed. With few options at her disposal, she calls upon the one man who can turn the tide—Captain Jack Sparrow.
In this first volume, Jack assembles a new crew that includes his first mate, Hector Barbossa, the always-brooding Billy Turner, and a sailor named Jean, who Jack has known since they were both kids. Also onboard are a host of new and daring cohorts in Jack's quest for freedom—the royal pirate Carolina and her partner-in-crime Diego de Leon; the truly fearsome Catastrophe Shane; Jean's cousin Marcella; and Tia Dalma's mysterious servant, Alex. But it doesn't take the crew long to find trouble—in the form of the Pirate Lord of the Adriatic Sea, Eduardo Villanueva.
In a secret laboratory hidden away in a dense jungle, the mysterious Shadow Lord has used his strange powers to amass a Shadow Army, which take over any inanimate objects they come across, turning them into lethal, unstoppable fighters. Through the use of his magic cauldron, the Shadow Lord observes the destruction and carnage his Shadow Army has left in their wake on their first mission to Panama. He quickly realizes, however, that all seven vials of his Shadow Gold, the means by which he controls his army, have been stolen right from under him....
Meanwhile, Captain Jack Sparrow is on his way to Tortuga with his first mate Barbossa (who seems constantly annoyed by his captain's antics) by his side to find some new crew members for his ship, the Black Pearl. As soon as Jack arrives he finds himself face-to-face with his old friend Billy Turner. Jack wants to recruit Billy to the Pearl, but all Turner wants to do is get back to North Carolina where his wife and baby boy, William Turner Jr., are waiting for him. Jack schemes to keep Billy with him long enough to convince him to join the Pearl by offering him passage to North Carolina. Jack, Turner, and Barbossa then all make their way to the Faithful Bride to interview potential crewmembers. The first to sign on is Catastrophe Shane, a drunkard who thinks he's fit to join the Pearl because he likes "boats" and "seagulls". The next to approach them is an intelligent older pirate named Henry, whom Jack is about to sign up when the villainous Spanish Pirate Lord Eduardo Villanueva shows up at the tavern and threatens Henry and some of the other pirates in the bar into joining his crew. Jack considers dueling with Villanueva right then and there, but relents when he sees the size of Villanueva's burly crewmen.
Coming up with objectives
Jack and co. sail out of Tortuga soon afterwards (during which time Catastrophe Shane's staggering ineptitude as a seaman becomes more and more apparent). As he and Barbossa discuss Shane's incompetence, Jack suddenly feels a strange, freezing darkness begin to creep over him, severely constricting his chest, causing Barbossa to suggest (somewhat hopefully) that he may be "deathly ill." As Jack goes to rest in his cabin, the shadows begin taking over his vision and tugging at him all over. Jack realizes that he has been cursed, and decides to change course and visit the mystic Tia Dalma in hopes of finding a cure. On the way to her shack, Jack hears Tia's voice in his head, telling him that she's not at her usual spot, but rather upriver of "the glittering city", which Jack guesses must be New Orleans. Soon afterwards the crew discover a sixteen-year-old Spanish stowaway aboard the Pearl named Diego de Leon. Diego explains that he had helped his friend, the princess Carolina, escape from her arranged marriage to a cruel old governor. Unfortunately, Carolina was recaptured by the Spanish, and Diego knew that only a ship like the Pearl and a captain like Jack would be able to catch them. Diego mentions that Carolina's parents were carrying chests and chests of Spanish gold, which immediately persuades Jack to go after her.
After a quick battle, the crew of the Pearl make off with the tomboyish Carolina and the Spanish's treasure and head off to New Orleans. Diego and Carolina convince Jack to take them on as crew mates, and Carolina warns Jack about the threat of Lord Villanueva, who she learned made a deal with the Spanish monarchy to completely take over the Caribbean. When the Pearl finally arrives in New Orleans, Jack runs into Jean Magliore, one of the first crew members he ever had back when he captained the Barnacle. They quickly make a deal for Jean to come aboard the Pearl, and Jean also manages to convince Jack to allow his cousin, Marcella, to join the crew as well. Jack and Barbossa then begin their journey along the Mississippi River in a dinghy, which Jack forces Barbossa to row (and at which time a maligned Barbossa secretly vows that things would change one day). The two eventually come across Tia Dalma in an old graveyard, who informs them that the Shadow Lord is responsible for Jack's condition, intending to use his powers to hunt down and destroy all the Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court. Tia then introduces them to her zombie companion, Alex, and explains that she had woken him from death because he knew more about the Shadow Lord "than any man alive" and could thus steal all seven vials of his Shadow Gold for her. While she had kept one of the vials in her possession, she instructed Alex to take the other six to the strongest Pirate Lord (which Jack naturally thinks should have been him), but Alex misunderstood and gave the vials to more than one of the Brethren. Tia explains that if Jack wants to live, he must find all seven vials of Shadow Gold and drink them. She gives him the one she kept for herself, and once Jack consumes it, he feels "more alive than he'd ever been before" and wants nothing more than to acquire the other vials as well. Tia suggests that Jack begin his search in South America, gives him a quipu (which Jack thinks is just a bunch of useless string), and insists that Alex join the crew on their quest. He, Jack, and Barbossa then make their way downriver, where they encounter Gombo, a runaway slave that Jack, who understands the value of freedom, takes pity on (much to the outrage of Barbossa) and recruits to the crew.
The second vial
Back on the Pearl, the crew come across the ruins of a recently destroyed fort, and Alex realizes that the Shadow Army has ravaged it. Jack once again begins to feel the strange mystical shadows begin to take over him, and he turns to the others to help him figure out how to use the quipu. Jean informs them that it is an Incan tool - used to spell out secret messages that could be carried back and forth without being read, and Jack realizes that Tia must have given it to him because the Incas have acquired some of the Shadow Gold. The crew make dock at a nearby cove, and as Jack attempts to sneak past a guarded Spanish fort, he unwittingly stumbles into an ancient Inca temple, where he meets a tribe of natives and he speaks with the high priest who is a friend of Tia Dalma's and gives Jack his solid gold ceremonial spear and finds a vial of Shadow Gold resting on top of a stone altar on top of the Temple. Before he can make off with it, however, Villanueva suddenly appears and the pair duel over the vial. Jack narrowly manages to defeat him and drinks the second vial, which makes him feel even more rejuvenated than before. After escaping a band of Spanish soldiers, Jack and co. make their way out of the cove, and Jack orders the crew to set sail for China (much to the dismay of Billy Turner, though Jack promises it will be just "one more stop" to find the next vial).
- Jack Sparrow
- Tia Dalma
- Carolina (princess) (First appearance)
- Diego de Leon (First appearance)
- Eduardo Villanueva
- Tia Dalma
- Alex (First appearance)
- Billy Turner
- Will Turner (Mentioned only)
- William Turner's mother (Mentioned only)
- Jean Magliore
- Marcella Magliore
- Shadow Lord (First appearance)
- Jocard (First mentioned)
- Marcus (First appearance)
- Governor of Florida (First mentioned)
- Fernando Ruiz
- Davy Jones (Mentioned only)
- Sumbhajee Angria (Mentioned only)
- Carolina's father (First mentioned)
- Caribbean Sea
- Shadow Lord's Island (First appearance)
- Macchu Picchu
- China (First mentioned)
- Florida (Mentioned only)
- San Augustin (First mentioned)
- North Carolina (First mentioned)
- Port Royal (Mentioned only)
- Boston (Mentioned only)
- New York (Mentioned only)
- Maine (Mentioned only)
- Canada (Mentioned only)
- Greenland (Mentioned only)
- Ireland (Mentioned only)
- India (Mentioned only)
Organizations and titles
- Crew of the Black Pearl
- Spanish Royal Navy
- Spanish Army (First appearance)
- Crew of the Flying Dutchman (Mentioned only)
- First mate
- Pirate Lord
- The last page of the book, which encourages readers to not miss the next installment of the series, Rising in the East, says, in part, "But before Jack can secure more Shadow Gold he'll need to fight off the Pirate Lords Mistress Ching and Sao Feng..." In fact, no hostilities break out between Jack and Sao Feng in said book.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Legends of the Brethren Court. There are many indications that she's really his sister, Constance.