"It was a great life while it lasted, and it makes a great story."New York Tribune, August 20, 1922
In his great galley, the Arabella, Peter Blood, driven by treachery from his quiet home, sailed the romantic waters of the Caribbean Sea, Admiral of a fleet of pirate ships. Superb, even beyond Morgan, he is a figure of romance such as you have not imaged even in the most colorful of your dreams.
published by The Riverside Press
Cambridge, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1922
I think what makes Captain Blood an enduring classic is the character of Peter Blood. He is at turns a worldly sophistocate and a charming naif. He craves adventure yet he is searching for the security of a place he can call home. He is admittedly cynical and yet allows hope to peek through every now and then, and even manages to fall in love. This book rises and falls on Sabatini's characterization of his hero, which is very compelling.
My only real complaint is that, because Blood is so finely drawn, so vivid a character, all others, including the villians are pale and less than memorable.
Through a series of mishaps, caused by his desire to do the right and honorable thing, Peter Blood, Irishman, soldier, graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, and doctor, goes to the aid of a well-born client who was wounded in an act of rebellion for which the doctor has no sympathy. While the aristocratic leaders of the rebellion buy their freedom, Blood is condemned for aiding the rebels and, with the others from the lower classes, is transported to Barbados as a slave. After escaping, he comandeers a Castilian warship and becomes a pirate.
Through his pirate days, he retains those qualities of all Sabatini heroes: honor, dignity, intelligence, a quick wit, and a hidden love for an impossible woman.
While the Errol Flynn movie is mostly true to the plot and the spirit of the novel, it leaves out a great deal and, of necessity, simplifies Blood's character. If you've seen the movie, read the book anyway. You won't regret it.
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