Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sea Hawk- Raphael Sabatini

All I can say is WOW! Normally, I like pirates and all (who hasn't seen Pirates of the Caribbean and loved Jack Sparrow?) how else could you explain my love for Captain Nemo and his Nautilus? Then there's that one Canadian movie George's Island, the one guy, Jellybee, sooo cool. Yes, Mom, I know you like him too. He's so um, I think maybe idiotic is the word I'm looking for, you can't help but like the guy.
Anyway, this book is about a man who originally took to piracy to salvage his families holdings in England, but stopped when he fell in love with a girl. Oh yeah, for once I'm not bashing romance you just can't have pirates without it.
Anyway her brother doesn't approve of the match, mostly because of the long feud between the families and the man's father's reputation. Oh, and the fact that the father spent the families entire holdings into massive debt. Oliver (main character later know as the Muslim corsair, Sakr-el-Bahr) promises as his father is dying to look out for his younger brother Lionel, who has his father's same habits.
Anyway, Peter the girl's older brother issues many challenges, which pirate man ignores. Eventually, Peter hits him with a riding crop marking him in public, so Oliver goes to well, you know, hunt him down and slay the evil beast. Yet he decides not to because he promised his girl he wouldn't harm her brother because he was basically the only family she had.
That same night Oliver's brother engaged in a duel with Peter killing him, and ending up with only a slight but bloody wound himself. The wound left a trail of blood to Oliver's front door. Oliver is accused, no one suspects the younger brother yadda yadda yadda. Eventually, when Oliver sets about clearing his name, Lionel (brother) decides that not only will he be hung if Oliver tells the truth, but if he takes Oliver out of the picture, he inherits the wealth Oliver has earned through that piracy sanctioned by the Queen of England. So he has him kidnapped, intending to have the man he hired to do the deed sell him into slavery instead, the man tell good Ol' Oliver that for the same price the brother paid, he'll return him to England and testify that he was paid to remove him. no such luck on the way back they are captured by the Spanish. Who in the midst of the Inquisition force a conversion to Catholicism. Then banish Oliver to work as a galley slave (oarsman on the large Spanish war ships) where he is later rescued by a Muslim corsair. Who takes him in and converts him yet again this time to Islam.
He spends five years working through the ranks, then he hears that his lady friend is set to marry his brother bad plan Lionel, so he kidnaps both his brother and the girl. This is as much as I'm going to tell you, you can read the book, it'll do you good... That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
I give this book two thumbs way, way up. I loved it. It was fast paced and well written, at 366 pages long it took me just over a day and a half to finish. Considering I still haven't finished the maybe 200 pages of Treasure Island, that's pretty good. It is rather bloody but no more so than King Solomon's Mines or 20000 Leagues Under the Sea. The details on pirating are particularly interesting as are the little bits on sailing and the slave trade.
Lovely book, I'm about to go and try to find more Sabatini in the local library system. Fingers crossed, because if I find Captain Blood, I can cross not one but two books off my LXG list. Oh, yes this is one of the many.

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