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The Pyrates
George MacDonald Fraser
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The Pyrates

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  924 ratings  ·  63 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
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published July 12th 1984 by Alfred a Knopf (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
Vit Babenco
“One of the great things about pirate ships in the good old days was that they were purpose-built – not for cargoes of crude oil or containers or package tourists, but for knavery and conspiracy and swashbuckling and, in a word, Romance.”
George MacDonald Fraser turned his pirate anecdote into a pulp screenplay deriding both swashbuckling fiction and especially mainstream cinema. Modern pop culture clichés applied to the bloodthirsty but literarily romanticized era of pirates become incredibly ri
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
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
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
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
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!
Elaine Meszaros
Rivaling Terry Pratchett for the king of humorous writing, George McDonald Fraser creates a fictional vision of the pirate life lifted directly from Treasure Island and Basil Rathbone movies with touches of slap-stick (if fruitcart then chase scene). Fraser's pirates are walking, talking larger-than-than stereotypes. Every paragraph contains a delightfully snarky gem, play on words or downright silliness ("Her chest smoldered and her eyes heaved...just by way of a change"). And yet, there is far ...more
A. Thurman
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.
C. Patrick
I really enjoyed this novel by George MacDonald Fraser, a noted historical novelist and Hollywood screenwriter. Best known for his comedic "Flashman" series about an anti-hero's exploits in the Victorian era, "The Pyrates" could be described as "Blazing Saddles" meets "Pirates of the Caribbean". But the only supernatural going in "The Pyrates" is the super heroic-ness of the lead protagonist, Long Ben Avery, Captain, Royal Navy. The impression he leaves after an early meeting with King Charles s ...more
Pants-wettingly funny and a cracking good read. Sa-HA!
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
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.

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
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
You really have to know your stuff to write a good parody and George MacDonald Fraser really knows his stuff. I feel guilty giving this book only three stars but I gave the books in Fraser's Flashman series four and five stars and I don't think that this book compares to the books in that series.

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
Pleasant, inconsequential romp...not the Flashman series, but diverting.

The same irreverent wit is here but the energy and the narrative focus are not.

Good summer book.

One for diehard fans.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
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
Richard Bentley
Very funny and witty. Another great read. Closest thing to a real romp I have read in some time.
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
Everything by GMF is a worthy read. Always humorous and quirky with a fair bit of historical enlightenment along the way!
A disappointing read from an author I expected more from (and, yes, I ended that with a preposition - not going to follow Latin rules when writing in English).

Full review can be found at:
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.
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.
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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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