Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini **possible spoilers ahead**

First published in 1922 I am shocked I somehow missed this great book up until now. I've always been a big lover of the swashbuckling pirate tales and this book is definitely swashbuckling!

Set in 1600s we are first introduced to Peter Blood as a doctor tending his geraniums whilst he watches the rest of the town head off to support the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth. Whilst not wanting to get involved in the rebellion he finds he has no choice after being caught tending a wounded rebel and sent as a slave to Barbados.

Now this is where it all starts to kick off - with a horrid man buying him, a lovely lady keeping him interested and a deep anger and hatred burning for the injustice of it all - Blood is shown to be opportunistic and falls back on his previous careers as a soldier & sailor when presented with the chance to escape slavery and take up the life of piracy.

This book is full of everything one would expect from a pirate tale: pieces of eight, sword fights, archetypal villains, damsels in distress and, of course, good triumphing over evil! Where Sabatini really excels, however, are the sea battles. You are dragged in to a point where you can almost hear the ship timbers creaking as Blood creates some spectacular ship maneuvers and has you giggling in glee (in a packed hospital waiting room) as his ship appears out of the cannon smoke to take down the bad guy! With more than one enemy out to get him Blood still remains a cool character, with his own sense of honour that he fights to uphold in his position as pirate captain.

This has a few twists in the tale as Blood tries to escape piracy when given the opportunity but is thrown into a 'civilised' society still filled with injustice and underhanded dealings that even a pirate wouldn't agree with. Leading him back to life as a pirate and all the more tainted for his experiences, you do feel sympathy for Blood as he was, essentially, forced into being a pirate.

Due to the time this was written there are some racist views and words used that made me grit my teeth, however this is quite tame for other books at the time - and you must keep reminding yourself that this is not a modern book and those views/words did, sadly, exist in mainstream.

Other than that, this is a gripping pirate tale that I wish I'd found sooner. It will now stay on my eReader as  my 'fall back book'. If you enjoyed Treasure Island when you were younger and wish for a more grown up book based around adult characters then I recommend this book for you. It is for all adventurers, romanticists and people who love pirates with honour!

No comments: