Friday, July 14, 2017

Forgotten Books: CAPTAIN BLOOD, etc. (again)

Alex Raymond's original art for the movie poster (below)

I was in the mood for Blood again (it happens every few years), so I reread Captain Blood, this time with my ears. Was it even better as an audiobook? Maybe not, but Blood’s funny lines (and there are plenty) sound mighty fine with an Irish accent. Anyway, to mark the occasion, here’s a rerun of my remarks from a post five years ago, with some new illos and a special offer at the end. Off we go:

There are very few books I've read more than three times, but this is one of them, and it never fails to deliver.

Captain Blood is a great movie (There's more movie art HERE), but it's an even better book, and that's saying something. The novel first appeared in 1921, in nine separate segments in the great pulp mag Adventure, and in book form the following year. And because all this happened prior to 1923, it's in the public domain, and offered free for Kindle by Amazon.

In case you don't know the setup . . . the story begins with Peter Blood settling down (after a career of soldiering, with plenty of experience in naval battles) to his preferred profession of practicing medicine. Unluckily for him (but lucky for us), his neighbors are in revolt against the king of England, and after a disastrous battle, Blood is called upon to tend their wounds. When he does, the crown brands him a traitor and sentences him, along with a group of true rebels, to a life of slavery in Barbados.

The real fun begins when a Spanish ship attacks the settlement, and Blood rallies his fellow rebels convict to capture the ship. Since they're now outlaws, their best career move is turn pirate, which they do with a vengeance. The saga that follows is packed with action, intrigue and just the right amount of romance (it provides motivation without turning mushy).

Sabatini's prose conveys the flavor of the times, but is still crisp and witty. There are several passages that make me laugh out loud. The only bad news is that at the end of the book, Blood hangs up his pirate hat for good. BUT WAIT! That's not really the end, because Sabatini went on to write 16 stories and novelettes, all set within the time frame of the novel, when Blood was at his swashbuckling best.

The first ten stories were collected as Captain Blood Returns (1931) (titled The Chronicles of Captain Blood in England) and the last six as The Fortunes of Captain Blood (1936). I've read both of those more than three times, too, and I'm about to start again. And you're welcome to join me.

I have Kindle-friendly versions of both Captain Blood Returns and The Fortunes of Captain Blood, and I'm happy to share. 
Write me at


Unknown said...

I read CAPTAIN BLOOD for the first time only a few months ago, and I'm glad I finally go around to it.

Yvette said...

I loved this book as well as the other Sabatini book I read, THE SEAHAWK. SO much fun. I also have SCARAMOUCHE on my shelves. I love adventure and derring-do and this is what I call a thumping good read.

Charles Gramlich said...

Good book. Love the Alex Raymond art here