Friday, April 6, 2012

Forgotten (and Free for Kindle) Books: Captain Blood

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

You probably already know Captain Blood a great movie. (If not, come back on Tuesday and I'll tell you.) 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 free RIGHT HERE for Kindle.

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 short stories, all set within the time frame of the novel, when Blood was at his swashbuckling best.

The stories were collected as Captain Blood Returns (1931) (rechristened The Chronicles of Captain Blood in England) and The Fortunes of Captain Blood (1936). And guess what? I've read both of those books more than three times, too. And I'm nowhere near being finished.

The adventure of Forgotten Books continues at pattinase.


Rick said...

I feel the same way about Sabatini's SCARAMOUCHE. His boooks need to make a comeback.

Jerry House said...

Evan, I'm sure you were born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.

Yvette said...

Evan, I'm so glad to find someone else who likes Sabatini's work. I absolutely loved this book.

I also loved THE SEA HAWK which I read a few years ago. I talked about CAPTAIN BLOOD on my blog last year when I read and reviewed it. What a terrific book. I loved the movie with Errol Flynn, of course. But the book, I think, is even better.

I've been meaning to read SCARAMOUCHE, but still looking for a nice copy. I don't like reading online (refuse to buy a Kindle).

Rick is right, Sabatini needs to make a comeback.

Fabulous adventure stories.

Anonymous said...

It's the real Rick here. It's time I re-read this (again), and maybe Scaramouche too. So many books...

Adventuresfantastic said...

Not counting duplicates, I've got about two dozen of Sabatini's books in various paper editions. Some of them are so fragile I'm afraid to read them. Fortunately, I also have quite a few of them in electronic format. Great writing.

David Cranmer said...

A movie I enjoyed as a youth. Sounds like a book I need to read as an adult.