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The Pyrates: A Swashbuckling Comic Novel by the Creator of Flashman Paperback – July 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


"An unfathomable delight."
--The New Yorker

"The most wonderfully idiotic love song to swashbucklers ever set to Korngold trumpets. Fraser again proves himself a master."
--The New York Times

From the Publisher

Hollywood meets the bounding main in this Technicolor pantomime by the creator of Flashman, a gloriously silly swashbuckling saga full of buccaneers, tall ships, desert islands, and heaving seas and bosoms. It’s all there, right down to a Dead Man’s Chest, cleavages that are everything they should be, and characters in sea–boots who say nothing but ‘Arr!’ and ‘Me hearty!’ in a plot that is wonderfully absurd. Originally published in 1983. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585748005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585748006
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #944,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
Author George MacDonald Fraser, the accomplished British author of the FLASHMAN PAPERS and the Private McAuslan trilogy, has also toiled as a Hollywood scriptwriter. And he's been fascinated by pirate stories all his life. Thus, in THE PYRATES, the reader is treated to what could serve as the script for the funniest, most outrageous buccaneer saga ever not put on film.
The hero of THE PYRATES is Captain Ben Avery, RN, the handsomest, most chivalrous, noblest, most incorruptible, bravest, most dutiful, and most unseducible man ever to wield an officer's sword on behalf of His Majesty. In Avery, as with every other of the novel's characters, Fraser has lovingly created a caricature. In any case, the time is "the old and golden days of England". King Charles occupies the throne. Ben is ordered to secretly convey a priceless crown to the King of Madagascar. On the same outbound ship are Admiral Lord Rooke and his gorgeous daughter Vanity. Of course, seafaring rascals capture the vessel, steal the crown, abandon Ben on a sandspit, and sell Vanity into white slavery. The tabloids (!) blame Avery for the debacle, and the remainder of the book has our superhero valiantly struggling to rescue honor, crown and Vanity from assorted scoundrels and near things. Of course, even the villains are occasionally endearing, especially if they're British, e.g. Colonel Blood, RA (Cashiered), a darker version of Avery without the ethics or meticulous dress code. And, needless to say, Captain Ben is besotted with Vanity, though his appreciation for her considerable charms is entirely platonic, anything more prurient unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Bloomfield on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Imagine the fantasy and imagination of The Princess Bride; take the joie de vivre of Pirates Of The Caribbean; mix it a little with the eccentricity of Carry On Don't Lose Your Head (leaving out the tackier parts of the humour) and then take each of your favourite pirate stereotypes (bad guys, good guys, black spots, needlessly evil Spaniards, sword fights and derring-do) and turn it into one of the most joyous and hilarious books you'll ever read. Oh, and some of the characters really existed, too, just to add a slight historical edge.

The Pyrates is perhaps the funniest book you'll read all year, perhaps it's the funniest book you'll read in many years. For a long, long time I thought it was the funniest book I was ever going to read.

One gets the clear impression while reading this book that GM Fraser, the author, has thrown caution to the wind. Normally his books are considered, paced and quite recognisably scholarly, for all their adventure and humour. With Pyrates, however, we get a writer having the most fun he's had in years, and sharing it with his readers.

Reviews can be used for many purposes; the purpose of a review may be to critique a novel from a particular standpoint, or it may be to throw interesting light on it by placing it in a broad context. The possibilities are almost endless. In this case, I'm going to nail my colours to the crow's nest:

I'm writing this review simply to tell you how much I loved this book, pass on some of the happiness it gave me, and thoroughly recommend that you get a copy of it as soon as you can. I hope it makes you laugh out loud as often, and as heartily, as I did!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By CodeMaster Talon on November 10, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Pyrates" is the first book I read by the wonderful George Fraser, and it's a great place to start. A pretty unique achievement, the book blends every bit of pirate lore, atmosphere and outright clichés into a marvelously funny and entertaining read.

The plot is rather difficult to explain; it follows the dashing Captain Avery as he attempts to recover a priceless treasure, sometimes helped and sometimes hindered by the roguish Colonel Blood, falling in love with Lady Vanity (who describes herself as "gorgeous, proud, and insufferably spoiled"), fighting pirates, winning battles, getting stranded, imprisoned, rescued, rescuing and virtually every other thing that has ever happened in a pirate story (including, of course "The Black Spot").

It's all such huge fun, and Fraser's writing is so delightful, you can't go wrong. An absolute must for fans of swashbucklers (literary or cinematic). Be sure to stick around for the "Afterthought", where Fraser discusses the real life figures he placed in his story. The bit about the real Colonel Blood is by itself worth the price of the book. Recommended.


(If you like this book, PLEASE check out Fraser's lesser known "The General Danced at Dawn". It's even better.)
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1997
Format: Paperback
You've seen them countless times before, the dashing heros and evil villains in those classic pirate movies. But you've never seen them as they are in George MacDonald Fraser's labor of love, The Pyrates. Fraser, author of the Flashman books of historical fiction, wrote The Pyrates as his personal tribute to the many pleasurable hours he spent with Daniel Defoe and Robert Louis Stevenson, Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn. Giving a nod to both Hollywood and history, Fraser has crafted a wickedly funny version of the English navy's run-in with the Coast Brethren.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Fraser launches his Hero, Captain Ben Avery, on a mission that quickly goes astray. Forced to team up with the Anti-hero, Colonel Thomas Blood (British Army, cashiered), Ben must recover rare jewels o' price, rescue the Heroine, Lady Vanity, from the fell clutches o' evil pyrates, and rid the Spanish Main o' every tarry-handed mother's son in the Brotherhood. For spice, Fraser throws in a fascinating array of knaves, kings, despots, wayward admirals, Lost Indian Tribes, kidnapped damsels, thieves, sultry piratical temptresses, and shifty pawnbrokers.
The Pyrates is a splendid read, a great story told by a great storyteller, and I'm past due for a new copy. But this book also shows Fraser's immense skill as a writer. He breathes life into every character, no matter how minor the role, and he writes with a precision and economy that leaves me amazed.
So clap yer deadlights on The Pyrates, wi' a wannion, and blame y'rself if you leave emptyhanded, for this be a right fine read, by the Powers, devil a doubt, or scupper me wi' a marlinspike...else.
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