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The Pyrates

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  1,098 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
In THE PYRATES, the author of the celebrated Flashman novels pays tongue-in-cheek homage to the swashbuckling books and movies that have always stirred his imagination. 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
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Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 1st 2003 by Lyons Press (first published November 17th 1983)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Feb 11, 2008 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny
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
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Vit Babenco
Sep 18, 2013 Vit Babenco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
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Tim
Apr 20, 2008 Tim rated it liked it
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
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
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Jane
Apr 28, 2011 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-fiction
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
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Alanpalmer
Jul 23, 2011 Alanpalmer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite
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
Mandie
Feb 22, 2010 Mandie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Andrew Hill
Jan 20, 2011 Andrew Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Wendy
Jun 26, 2008 Wendy rated it really liked it
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.
Allison Thurman
Jan 14, 2010 Allison Thurman rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-loan
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 :)
Jason
Jun 18, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing
Pants-wettingly funny and a cracking good read. Sa-HA!
Dan
Mar 07, 2017 Dan rated it did not like it
loved his Flashman books, but this was just garbage.
Shane Moore
Feb 26, 2017 Shane Moore rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. The idea of a humorous pirate story appeal to me. Sadly, the humor didn't lang and the actual story was too referential and the characters a little too on-the-nose for my tastes.
C. Patrick
Sep 08, 2014 C. Patrick rated it it was amazing
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
Dergrossest
Sep 10, 2015 Dergrossest rated it did not like it
I loathe political correctness. I will never use the term “Native Americans” to refer to Indians (who are “First Ones Here Americans” at best) or “Asians” to refer to the Chinese, Japanese or Koreans (are Afghanis, Iranians and Pakistanis not from Asia too?). Nor do I believe that every religion – especially not those homicidal, homophobic or misogynistic religions – deserves our respect. And I will still watch Blazing Saddles every chance I get.

But this book goes too far. Written in 1983, it i
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Edward
Nov 28, 2007 Edward rated it really liked it
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
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Martha Greenough
Feb 16, 2017 Martha Greenough rated it liked it
fun, but dated
Ted Henkle
Dec 29, 2013 Ted Henkle rated it liked it
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
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Jeff
Sep 22, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it
A saucy, piratical romp 'cross the 1680's Atlantic, awash with derring-do doers, scandalous scandalizers, eeking maidens-in-distress, and more preposterous anachronisms than you can shake an electric rapier at. It follows the cleft-jawed hero Ben Avery, the smarmy anti-hero Tom Blood, and a bucketload of archetypal buccaneers, as they fight, plot, sneak, loot, and pillage their way from Madagascar to the Caribbean. There's a boisterous plot here, replete with clashing swords, naval battles, buri ...more
Ben
Jun 05, 2012 Ben rated it liked it
Shelves: comedy
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
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Roger
Jan 14, 2008 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Todd Jenkins
Feb 14, 2008 Todd Jenkins rated it really liked it
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
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Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it it was amazing
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
Claudia
Jul 16, 2015 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much fun. Okay, it ran a little long, but I didn't care.

Honestly, this book felt as though it was written for me, personally, in half a dozen ways. I love pirate stories and old movies, especially swashbuckling ones. I also love meta jokes (breaking the fourth wall, that sort of thing); this had everything!

Clearly, Fraser and I have seen (and enjoyed) many of the same movies, and this tongue-in-cheek, slapstick approach is a marvelous homage. After reading this, I learned that Fraser had wri
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Shayne
Jan 07, 2008 Shayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Caroline
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
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Jake Leech
Halfway through this book, I was going to give it two stars and write the following review:

"Imagine Ian Fleming in his twilight years, writing one of his crappier Bond novels, but deciding to make it into a screwball comedy. Then let it age poorly for thirty years before you, the reader, pick it up. Fleming wrote some pretty good stuff, and so did Fraser. Go read Flashman instead."

But Fraser actually builds up to a pretty good ending, not too too predictable, and very well written. So I've given
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CQM
Sep 08, 2015 CQM rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comic, adventure
I'm going to have to admit that Fraser minus Flashman just isn't the same. This is a ludicrously tongue in cheek romp featuring every pirate cliche and every film cliche going. Fraser casts the book himself with Louis Hayward in the lead, Clark Gable as the inevitable Flashman-esque rogue and various Rathbonian villains.
After reading the afterthought, in which Fraser gives a brief explanation of who the characters were or were based on, I couldn't help but wish this has been more in the style o
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David
Aug 10, 2008 David added it
Shelves: pirates, gmf
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!

http://fireandsword.blogspot.com/2006...
Mac.Hawk
Feb 18, 2016 Mac.Hawk rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully irreverent and with a tongue so firmly in cheek it's a wonder GMF didn't choke when writing it. Set in an era when pirates were pirates and Hollywood was glad for that. As usual with GMF, the book contain quite a lot of historical accuracy both in detail and the characters but it's really a piece of pure hokum fiction that swashbuckles it's way into your smile zone. If you've already read any of GMF's novels you'll probably love this too, if you haven't but want a light, comical twis ...more
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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
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