The Pyrates
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The Pyrates

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  795 ratings  ·  57 reviews
The Pyrates is George MacDonald Fraser's tongue-in-cheek homage to the swashbucklers of yore. In these rollicking pages you'll find tall ships and desert islands; impossibly gallant adventurers and glamorous heroines; devilishly sinister cads and ghastly dungeons; improbably acrobatic duels and hair's-breadth escapes; and more plot twists than you can shake a rapier at. A...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 1st 1985 by Plume (first published November 17th 1983)
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Dan Schwent
I thought I'd paste in my Dangerous Dan review for this one. We'll see if it gets the appreciation the one for The Gun Fight got.

Dangerous Dan here, back to push you toward stories while he drinks a PBR and pretends to care about things other than women and alcohol.
One of Dangerous Dan's favorite movies as a young lad living in the back room of a whore house was The Princess Bride. When I finally learned how to read (it was before I shaved the first time but not much), I read the book and wanted...more
I have the sense I should like this book more. Maybe its because its about pirates and naval warfare (maybe naval hijinks is a better description), loving Forester and O'Brian as I do. Maybe its because Dirda put it in as number 3 on his list of top 100 comic novels. Maybe its the manic energy which the author brings to every page, he is obviously working very hard, has the conventions down, the language, making references (which I got about two out of every three - that foreigness of the shared...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
Very few authors can pull off comedy in historical fiction, but Fraser can. He proved that in Richard Lester's Musketeers movies back in the 70s. I read this book before I knew he wrote those screenplays, and now I can see his style quite clearly. It's insane and anachronistic, and also totally cheeky and infectious.

It helps to have at least a passing knowledge of the swashbuckling greats of Hollywood when reading Pyrates, because the references come fast and furious. I was LMAO throughout, and...more
If I could give it six stars I would. I've read this book many times and it leaves me with that sense of wonder that I had as a child back full-force and sparkling. This book is fun, totally OTT, glorious fun. It would film like a dream but they'd ruin it so I hope that they never do. I guess PotC is close in feel in some ways.

There's so much wistful nostalgia here and it sweeps the reader along.

The characters are insanely perfect. Sheba. OMG, Sheba. She rocks. And who wouldn't want to slash Av...more
This is a Pirate tale like never before. It is a swashbuckling adventure for sure with all the necessary ingedients of a true english Hero and an equally english Damsel in distress, Brutal and slightly unhinged Buckaneers, mysterious Middle Eastern Pirates, the "lovable" rouge and incompetent Navy Captains. All this with the added humour of a litterrary genius depicting galley slaves Singing The Eaton Boat song and a hero complaining thet there is always a rowing boat behind a galleon for the he...more
Max Magbee
Fraser is the master of the tongue-in-cheek adventure, and this robust swashbuckler is no exception.
Over-stuffed with sword-fights, narrow escapes and cliched heroic and villainous character-types we've all come to expect from pirate stories, this book revels in it's influences (the author states early on that the musical strains of Korngold could be heard during a battle) and champions the overt use of anachronisms (the pirates have credit cards?!?), and it's fun is infectious.
It's easy to see...more
Buckle your swash, mateys! Complete with non-stop action and danger, not to mention romance, treasure, pirate lairs, princesses, one legged dwarves and dashing heros wearing ruffle front shirts, The Pyrates is the perfect mixture of historical fact, artistic license, and pure silly! Unputdownable and laugh out loud funny!
Ted Henkle
f you're looking for an historical novel, accurately depicting 17th Century piracy, then "The Pyrates" by Flashman creator, George MacDonald Fraser (GMF), is not for you.

"The Pyrates" is a swashbuckling farce. It's as if GMF wrote a book about a pirate movie instead of any real, or imagined adventure. The characters are mere caricatures and the story is chock-full of anachronisms. All this was deliberate, to either entertain the reader or defy historical novel writing conventions.

Probably both.

Pants-wettingly funny and a cracking good read. Sa-HA!
Lisa Studdert-kennedy
I read this book every summer having stumbled upon it in my local library in my late teens. It is a wonderful book. Hilariously funny, sometimes very, very funny in a very silly way, with the author often putting in comic touches in such as 'his brow knit and his eyebrows glinted sternly-eh?' Fantastic.

It has a great cast of eccentric characters, great sword fights, buried treasure and wonderful locations that are as eccentric as the leads. It is often laugh out loud funny. Yet at the same time...more
Very much in the vein of The Reavers by the same author (which I seem to remember enjoying more, but apparently only have two stars), The Pyrates is an unashamedly historically inaccurate and totally fictional account of a rollicking adventure on the High Seas. It thumbs its nose at revisionist historians and revels in anachronisms.

While the plot of the book is nothing to really get excited about, and the characters are somewhat amusing portrayals of various stereotypes, where this pastiche real...more
I enjoyed this a lot. It is kind of manic, intentionally, and that can take just a little getting used to. The author says in the afterword that he had seen all the old pirate movies, read all the old 'Boy's Own' pirate stories and wanted to spoof them all.

He cheerfully mixes in historical facts with deliberate anachronisms and unlikely plot elements to make for some laugh-out-loud reading. This has about every pirate motif I could think of: sword fights, plank walking (with one of the pirates p...more
Do you like pirates? Of course you do! Do you like 1930s films? Who doesn't! Does the following amuse you?

"That was England, then; long before interfering social historians and such carles had spoiled it by discovering that its sanitation was primitive and its social services non-existent, that London's atmosphere was so poisonous as to be unbreathable by all but the strongest lungs, that King Charle's courtiers probably didn't change their underwear above once a fortnight, that the cities stank...more
Todd Jenkins
Feb 14, 2008 Todd Jenkins rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: me hearties
This is my favorite book, bar none. I re-read it every two years and always get more laughs out of it. Fraser's humor isn't the typically dry British variety; he squeezes laughs into every crevice of this wild, irreverent pirate tale while managing to include some of the genuinely factual details that make his books so fascinating.

The only real glitch in the book is that, when it refers to events within its own pages, the page numbers it points to are usually several marks off. This is a minor d...more
A dizzying, action-packed yarn that takes us from England to the Caribbean via Madagascar, with a cast of pirates, heroes, villains, lovable rogues, heroines and vixens. As the author cheerfully tells us, great liberties are taken with history (among other things). It’s a wild blend of all the pirate stories the author devoured in his childhood, mixing historical figures and events with great dollops of deliberate anachronism.

A real romp, and definitely not to be taken seriously. I prefer Fraser...more
George Macdonald Fraser has made a career of deconstructing classic genre fiction. The Flashman series is part homage, part parody, part mutation. The Pyrates carries the parody even further, this time instead of exploring every nook of the Victorian Empire, Fraser takes a run at the swashbuckling tales of Jeffery Farnol, Rafael Sabatini, Captain Johnson, Michael Curtiz, and dozens of others. The Flashman novels have footnotes, this one has a bibliography!
The Pyrates is a parody of swashbuckling pirate tales like Treasure Island and Captain Blood but and especially of swashbuckling movies of the 30s and 40s. There are copious amount of anachronistic references to movies and actors (and some books) and tons of lampshading.

It does not transcend its parody, the way that the Princess Bride and the novels of Elizabeth Peters so. And it does seem awfully wordy and long at times. Still, I laughed aloud quite a number of times and had a great deal of fun...more
Kirsten Rodning
I read this book many years ago, so while I do not remember the plot very clearly, I do remember the book fondly for the way that it pulled me in to the story and made me laugh. I also remember quoting lines from the book for years after, but I don't think I'll try to remember those quotes now. What I do know is that this book is long overdue for a re-read from me. :)
Barbara Roden
A joyous, engaging, bawdy romp through swashbuckling history as it should have been. If you've read and enjoyed any of Sabatini's tales of high-seas derring-do, or thrilled to Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone crossing swords and exchanging sneers in Captain Blood, you'll love The Pyrates.
Brad Lucas
I have to admit, this book took a little getting used to, not just because of the language used, but the narrative was, to say the least, a little unconventional. But once I got chapter into it, I couldn't put it down. It was a fast paced, action filled adventure and I loved every swashbuckling minute of it.
Now that I've finished the twelfth and final (so far) Flashman novel, I had to find another George MacDonald Fraser book. This one was a wonderful surpise--much less history than the Flashman novel, but unbelievably funny. I laughed so hard at the first two pages I almost oculdn't go on.
Andrew Hill
Funny, action-packed, and (unlike the Flashman novels) appropriate for young readers as well as old, "Pyrates" is a sort of paean to the pirate stories and movies that captivated GMF as a young man. It's wonderful, and it makes me mourn Fraser all the more. He will be missed.
Melisende d'Outremer
Hilarious! Every piratical stereotype is covered - and covered well. The action is non-stop and the laughs come by the treasure chest full. A book that I, personally, could not put down - and often found myself laughing aloud - much to the chargrin of those around me.
Lets just say that if you've seen Cutthroat Island on purpose, you're clearly addicted to pirate tales and this is a book for you -- courtesy of the same mad genius responsible for Harry Flashman and the screenplay for Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers.

Matt Ryan
A wonderful frolic, although no light or quick journey by any means. 400 pages of (dated) humor a la Mad Magazine, National Lampoon (but not as crass, perhaps more like the Harvard Lampoon). Fraser is a master at the craft and "The Pyrates" showcases his talent.
Some of the sexism/racism makes me flinch, but I'm keeping in mind that Fraser is parodying content from a less enlightened time with less enlightened characters. This book succeeds as ripping every cheesy 30s-40s swashbuckling silliness to come out of Hollywood :)
This book is probably hard to find but, oh my, I thought it was so funny. This author did what we all want to do by writing a book using all the cliche's you can think of including heaving breasts. It might have been a bit off-color at some points.
Vit Babenco
George MacDonald Fraser turned a pirate anecdote into a pulp screenplay deriding both swashbuckling fiction and especially mainstream cinema. Modern pop culture clichés applied to the romantic era of pirates become incredibly ridiculous.
Jun 14, 2007 Gouty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want a good laugh
Arrrg! Avast me hearties, and prepare to set sail for the Spanish Main in the best send up of pirate movies, and books ever written. With tongue firmly in cheek Frasier mocks all the pirate/high seas stereotypes. It is a hilarious read.
The ultimate pirate novel: it contains every historical, literary and cinematic stereotype and yet it is both highly readable and true at least to the spirit of the period. This is what The Reavers should have been.
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He is best known for his Flashman series of historical novels, purportedly written by Harry Flashman, a fictional coward and bully originally created by Thomas Hughes in Tom Brown's School Days. The novels are presented as "packets" of memoirs written by the nonagenarian Flashman, who looks back on his days as a hero of the British Army during the 19th century. The series begins with Flashman, and...more
More about George MacDonald Fraser...
Flashman (The Flashman Papers, #1) Royal Flash (The Flashman Papers, #2) Flashman at the Charge (Flashman Papers, #4) Flash for Freedom! (The Flashman Papers, #3) Flashman in the Great Game (The Flashman Papers, #5)

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