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The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser

The Pyrates (1983)

by George MacDonald Fraser

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482831,063 (3.77)22

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
A rip-roaring pyratical romp. I enjoyed every minute of this book, daft as it was.Good escapist fun. ( )
  MsStephie | Jul 12, 2014 |
George MacDonald Fraser disappointed me with this effort. There just was no one to be appalled by, or root for. Sorry George, I agreed when you left this sub-genre and never returned. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 3, 2014 |
A deliberately pseudo-historical novel -- set, as the blurb says, "in the seventeenth century sort of" --adventures intended as a broad parody of Sabatini's pirate novels and the like. The opening is wonderful but somehow the rest is not as much fun as I hoped. ( )
  antiquary | Feb 10, 2013 |
Anyone who has read Fraser’s Flashman series can’t help but relish the prospect of his taking on the pirate genre. Nor does Fraser disappoint. Armed with a seemingly encyclopedic knowledge* of all things piratical – and I do mean all things: real pirate lore, Hollywood pirates, literary pirates, Disney pirates, etc. – Fraser concocts a frothy, hilarious parody of the whole pirate genre. (* By the way, “encyclopedic knowledge” isn’t a hyperbole in this case: Fraser helpfully includes an extensive bibliography at the end of the tale.)

In this version, our impossibly perfect hero, Captain Avery*, finds himself pitted against not one but seven pirates, each a burlesque of one or more familiar/beloved pirate archetypes (Captain Blood = dashing but entirely untrustworthy rogue; Firebeard = William “Blackbeard” Teach; Calico Jack= Captain Blood, Happy Dan Pew=Captain Hook, etc.) . As the action plunges from England to Tortuga, from Octopus Island to Madagascar, Fraser stitches together a tale that includes all the prerequisites of the genre – sea battles, swordfights, beautiful damsels in distress, dastardly Spanish dons, deserted islands, rum, treasure, dungeons, torture, wenches, rum, mutinies, swashing, buckling, a plentitude of pirate patois … and did I mention rum? - the satire unashamedly broad and self-aware without ever lapsing into disrespect.

(*”In short, Captain Avery was the young Errol Flynn, only more so, with a dash of Power and Redford thrown in; the answer to a maiden’s prayer, and between ourselves, rather a pain in the neck. For besides being gorgeous, he had a starred First from Oxford, could do the hundred in evens, played the guitar to admiration, helped old women across the street, kept his finger-nails clean, said his prayers, read Virgil and Aristophanes for fun, and generally made the Admirable Crichton look like an illiterate slob. However, he is vital if you are to get the customers in …” – a description that should give you an idea both of Captain Avery and Fraser’s narrative style.)

Perhaps this ground has been trodden before (Pirates of the Caribbean comes to mind), but never – to my mind - so thoroughly or with so much wit. This is one of those lampoons that, rather than making you embarrassed for enjoying the somewhat dubious source material, invites you to celebrate every beloved caricature, hyperbole and extreme. A great read anytime but perfect for the beach: arm yourself with a tankard of ale, deploy your beach chair in a shady spot, and prepare to be thoroughly entertained! ( )
  Dorritt | Jul 5, 2012 |
The satirical writing and mocking of Hollywood pirate films is inspired. ( )
1 vote davidmasters | Jan 19, 2009 |
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In Memory of the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Lancelot Blackburne (1658 - 1743) Archbishop of York and buccaneer
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It began in the old and golden days of England, in a time when all the hedgerows were green and the roads dusty, when hawthorn and wild roses bloomed, when big-bellied landlords brewed rich October ale at a penny a pint for rakish high-footed cavaliers with jingling spurs and long rapiers, when squires ate roast beef and belched and damned the Dutch over their claret while their faithful hounds slumbered on the rushes by the hearth, when summers were long and warm and drowsy, with honeysuckle and hollyhocks by cottage walls, when winter nights were clear and sharp with frost-rimmed moons shining on the silent snow, and Claud Duval and Swift Nick Nevison lurked in the bosky thickets, teeth gleaming beneath their masks as they heard the rumble of caches bearing paunchy well-lined nabobs and bright-eyed ladies with powdered hair who would gladly tread a measure by the wayside with the gallant tobyman, and bestow a kiss to save their husbands' guineas; an England where good King Charles lounges amiably on his throne, and scandalised Mr Pepys (or was it Mr Evelyn?) by climbing walls to ogle Pretty Nell; where gallants roistered and diced away their fathers' fortunes; where beaming yokels in spotless smocks made hay in the sunshine and ate bread and cheese and quaffed foaming tankards fit to do G.K. Chesterton's heart good; where threadbare pedlars with sharp eyes and long noses shared their morning bacon with weary travellers in dew-pearled woods and discoursed endlessly of 'Hudibras' and the glories of nature; where burly earringed smugglers brought their stealthy sloops into midnight coves, and stowed their hard-run cargoes of Hollands and Brussels and fragrant Virginia in clammy caverns; where the poachers of Lincolnshire lifted hares and pheasants by the bushel and buffeted gamekeepers and jumped o'er everywhere . . .
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0006470173, Paperback)

Repackaged to tie-in with hardback publication of 'The Reavers, and to appeal to a new generation of George MacDonald Fraser fans, 'The Pyrates, is a swashbuckling romp of a novel. The Pyrates is all the swashbucklers that ever were, rolled into one great Technicoloured pantomime - tall ships and desert islands, impossibly gallant adventurers and glamorous heroines, buried treasure and Black Spots, devilish Dons and ghastly dungeons, plots, duels, escapes, savage rituals, tender romance and steaming passion, all to the accompaniment of ringing steel, thunderous broadsides, sweeping film music, and the sound of cursing extras falling in the water and exchanging period dialogue. Even Hollywood buccaneers were never like this.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:09 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Raucous, funny send-up of pirate lore and legend.

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