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The Sea-Hawk

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  1,697 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Oliver Tressilian, a Cornish gentleman who helped the English defeat the Spanish Armada, is betrayed by his ruthless half-brother and seeks refuge in the Middle East, where he takes on a new role as a Barbary pirate.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1915)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rachel Teng
Sabatini seems so far to have a pattern to his writing. His stories stop when the hero has his happy ending and justice has been delivered to his villains, i.e., actual scumbags for whom there is very little sympathy from the reader. In all three books, there is also the woman who misunderstands the hero, the side villain that redeems himself, and the fool of a side character that makes life hard for the hero. The hero is sardonic, honorable, stoic, steadfast, and faces adversity with a barbed t ...more
Nancy
Rafael Sabatini! Oh, this generation doesn't even KNOW. This is a classic swashbuckling novel by the author of Captain Blood, and it is deliciously over the top. Handsome, powerful Oliver Tressilian, in love with the fair Rosamund, is working to overcome the opposition that Rosamund's sleazy brother and guardian are posing to their marriage. R's brother Peter provokes Oliver into public threats, but Oliver controls himself for love of his fair one; alas, Oliver's weasly brother Lionel kills Pete ...more
Gary Hoggatt
I first came to Rafael Sabatini through his excellent 1922 pirate novel Captain Blood, and then read his fine 1921 swashbuckling tale, Scaramouche. Continuing this journey through Sabatini's novels, I've just completed his 1915 pirate intrigue, The Sea-Hawk. The Sea-Hawk doesn't disappoint, living up exceedingly well to the high standards of Sabatini's other novels. It's got everything - adventure, drama, romance, and exotic locales. There are some elements that echo Sabatini's other stories, bu ...more
Dfordoom
I have a bit of a weakness for swashbuckling tales of adventure, and I think it’s fair to say that the greatest writer of such stories in the English language was Rafael Sabatini (1875-1950). And The Sea Hawk, originally published in 1915, is generally regarded as one of his finest works.

Sabatini was born in Italy. His mother was English and from the age of seventeen he made his home in England. All his books were written in English.

Like his even more famous Captain Blood which came out in 192
...more
Laura
Nov 27, 2011 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hannahr, Misfit
Recommended to Laura by: Old-Barbarossa
Buddy read with Bettie, Hayes (?) and Wanda.

Page 75:
Sakr-el-Bahr, the hawk of the sea, the scourge of the Mediterranean and the terror of Christian Spain lay prone on the heights of Cape Spartel.

This is the story of Oliver Tressilian who became a corsair since he was wrongly accused by this own brother of the murder of Master Peter Godolphin.

He then became a Barbary pirate after have spent a long time a galley slave.

Lady Rosamund Godolphin, his girlfriend, didn't trust him at the first time an
...more
Jim
I saw the Errol Flynn film based on this novel many years ago, and along with Captain Blood and Scaramouche, it made me curious to read the works of Sabatini--for starters, one of the great names in literary history. Doesn't it just fall trippingly from the tongue?

So I got The Sea-Hawk from the library, and read it . . . and discovered that the film and the novel are not really that similar. This should not have shocked me. It is certainly not the first time a film has been very different from t
...more
Helen
Fun. Another reviewer described it as escapist, and it is. Duels, kidnapping, treachery, betrayal, vengeance, love . . . it's all there. The language seems deliberately old-fashioned but it's still easy to understand. Sabatini even tries to get into the characters' heads and presents them as individuals with choices rather than cardboard figures he can move at will. My biggest problem is that he describes the slavery the Algerian Muslim pirates practice as more picturesque than an abomination. H ...more
Donna
Sir Oliver Tressilian is a wealthy landowner who plans to marry his beautiful neighbor, Rosamund. But after Rosamund's brother is murdered, not even she believes he's innocent of the crime. Before he can clear his name, his brother betrays him into slavery, where a chance encounter propels him into the ranks of the Barbary pirates. Five years later, he's Sakr-El-Bahr, the Sea Hawk, and he decides that it's time to use his new position to settle old scores.

Sir Oliver is more difficult to like tha
...more
Noor Jahangir
Sir Oliver Tressilian is the elder son of a man remembered by people as a foul-tempered despot and some of that bias has passed on to his son. Sir Oliver has paid of his father's debts and made his fortune by privateering in the name of the Queen, piracy by a gentler name. Now he is in love with Lady Godolophin, who has had a gentling effect on his troubled soul. But all is not well, for Lady Godolophin's borther, Peter, intensely dislikes Oliver due to their Guardian's dislike of the man, a gru ...more
John Beach
This is a more difficult Sabatini historical fiction to get into, I think, because none of the main characters are exactly… well, likable. We see some good character traits in the main character, like fidelity, but we also see him spending much of his time seeking vengeance and dreaming up punishments to exact his revenge.

Like most of Sabatini's swashbuckling heroes, Sir Oliver Tressilian/The Sea Hawk/Sakr-el-Bahr is very capable, strong, daring—arrogant, but he comes off much more gruff, short-
...more
John
Rafael Sabatini is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. The Sea Hawk is the 2nd book I've read of his and it's already one of my favorite books of all time. I look forward to reading many more of his work!
Russell
I've only read one other book of Sabatini's, Captain Blood. I liked that one a touch better than this one. But not by much. Rafael Sabatini's writing is fast paced, full of heroes that are larger than life while still maintaining their humanity. Sir Oliver is just such a character. Sabatini builds him up, he falls due to his good nature combined with his faults and at the hand of his cowardly half-brother, and begins his journey of transformation. Along the way we readers are treated to brave ac ...more
Travis
Classic bit of swashbuckling, high seas adventure as a young nobleman is framed for a crime and, fleeing England, ends up as a corsair in a middle-eastern rulers fleet.
Fun, as it is not the typical pirate story setting and enough adventure that you can live with all the cliches of the genre.
The book was a surprise, because in the movie, the Sea Hawk is very typical english pirate. In the book he's more 'Lawrence of Arabia'.
dragonhelmuk
Master Leigh sucked in a shuddering breath, and was silent for a while. Then he repeated an earlier question. "Do you believe in God, Sir Oliver?" "There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his Prophet," was the answer, and from his tone Master Leigh could not be sure that he did not mock. "That's a heathen creed," said he in fear and loathing. "Nay, now; it's a creed by which men live. They perform as they preach, which is more than can be said of any Christians I have ever met."


This book was no
...more
Leah Cossette
I'm sorry, I thought this was a pirate story, not a harlequin romance.

"She rose slowly, a strange agitation stirring in her, her bosom galloping."

"Before his fierce eyes there arose a vision of a tall stately maiden with softly rounded bosom, a vision so white and lovely that it enslaved him."


I'm three quarters of the way into this purported adventure novel, and not a single swash has been buckled, though many stereotypes have been promoted, many cliches have been embraced, and much bigotry
...more
Tara
Feb 12, 2013 Tara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Banaz Rashad
Recommended to Tara by: Hevi Rashad
one of the best stories, interesting and full of adventures ;)
Hannah
Sir Oliver Tressilian is a Cornish gentleman who, having won himself a comfortable amount of wealth (and a knighthood to boot!) privateering for the queen, is ready to settle down with the beautiful lady Rosamund and live a life of righteous peace. That peace is somewhat disturbed when Rosamunds brother shows up at Oliver's estate declaring himself completely opposed to the marriage, on the basis that Oliver is a strong willed and bad blooded pirate. The audacity!
Oliver swears for Rosamund's sa
...more
Phil
"Sir Oliver Tressilian!" Killigrew gasped, and "Sir Oliver Tressilian!" echoed Lord Henry Goade, to add "By God!"

"Not Sir Oliver Tressilian", came the answer, "but Sakr-el-Bahr, the scourge of the sea, the terror of Christendom, the desperate corsair your lies, cupidity and false-heartedness have fashioned out of a sometime Cornish gentleman." He embraced them all in his denunciatory gesture. "Behold me here with my sea-hawks to present a reckoning long overdue."

****

I adored this book. Admittedl
...more
R.L.
First, let's get this out of the way: in real life, pirates are bad people--really bad.

no pirates

But in literature and movies, you can take something as reprehensible as piracy and turn it into something more, well, swashbuckling.

As is so often the case, our hero in this melodrama is driven to extreme by the faithlessness of the woman he loves. Among other things. In fact, injustice just keeps piling on until you just can't believe anything worse can happen to Sir Oliver Tressilian. In this regard, the bo
...more
Jenny Esplin
**more like 3.5 stars

I didn't like this book as well as Captain Blood, mates. It had a completely different vibe, probably because it concerned Barbary pirates (Moorish ones), rather than those lovable pirates of the Caribbean.

The Barbary pirates stayed close to the Barbary coast, where they'd await their unsuspecting victim like a hawk (thus the name Sea-Hawk). They mostly relied on oar power, not wind power, to catch their victims. So there was no breathtaking unfurling of the sails, but inst
...more
Bekah
Brilliantly written in deliciously old fashioned English, this is the story of a man wrongfully accused of murder. He is then abducted, sentenced as a galley slave, and then... escapes!! But when he reemerges as The Sea-Hawk, a Barbary corsair, the tale is far from over.
Sir Oliver Tressilian is superb - witty, passionate, headstrong, and complex. And then there's the fair Lady Rosamund - Sir Oliver's love. She very nearly drove me stark raving mad at one point, halfway through the book, with he
...more
Jane
I don't think I've seen this movie, which is one of the few Errol Flynn films I haven't tracked down yet. I'm a little disappointed that it looks like the plot is substantially different; I would have liked to see the brother storyline play out.

ETA: just to update that no, the film has nothing to do with the book, aside from a little Spanish galley slave action.

The end result of all this is that I need to find me copies of Showdown and Beam Ends.
Remus




My least favorite of Sabatini's so far.
I don't understand why this is one of the most popular of his works. If you are expecting much in the form of action and adventure you will be disappointed. The "Part One" of the novel kept my interest but after that first ship battle it really slowed down. The book was too long for how uneventful it was and yet the ending was too sudden. The setting is quite exotic and vivid and one chapter: "The Slave-Market" although it does seem to deviate from the mai
...more
Caleb Rogers
This book hooks you harder than a tranny prostitute in LA is hooked on meth.

When starting, I was a bit concerned that "The Sea-Hawk" wouldn't be able to live up to its predecessor, "Captain Blood," and it first, it seemed like my fears would be realized. I don't wish to spoil the surprise, so instead: There is an amazing series of events, and suddenly, the book is transformed into a gentlemanly epic of torture, suffering, law, murder, women, and corsairs. Captain Blood for Arabia, one might thin
...more
Alena
This was an enjoyable adventure, but not as engaging as the last Sabatini book I finished (Captain Blood). The pacing is a bit slow; there are long swaths of narrative where I felt like I was waiting too long for either character development, or action that was critical to the plot. Additionally, I didn't really connect with any of the characters. Their motivations were clear and believable -- Sabatini puts almost too much emphasis on the reasons they make the decisions they do -- but I didn't r ...more
Roger
Another good adventure book by Sabatini. Sabatini is an excellent writer with a style very similar to Dumas, except a bit more focused and serious.

Rafael Sabatini was a very popular writer in the 1920s and 30s and many of his books were made into big budget movies (Sea-Hawk, Captain Blood, Scaramouche). Never critically recognized, his writing is entirely too smooth, his plots too twisting and interesting, and his dialogue too often littered with interesting turns of phrase such as "Words may b
...more
Madalina
'Tis a wonder that one so cunning could have a brother so stupid. Must be his mother.
In the end this book has an original star-point for Oliver's character - that is, for his wit, his intelligence and cunning, for I have never met his like.
One point for a natural-ish plot, it didn't seem forced to me, and there was no other way clear to me that could have spared the characters the grief.
One point for the other stupid characters that were there to compensate for Oliver. In faith, if not for that
...more
Thom Swennes
The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini is a tale of love and fights and fortunes upon the sea. Algerian pirates and the hatred shared by both Christians and Muslims play a big part of this story that was published in 1915. The story has all the color and attraction of England and the Mediterranean ports when the hero of the tale takes up the life of a Barbary corsair. This is a romance novel without the sex and lust that is so common in more contemporary works. This is, in a way, a fresh change from th ...more
Kpent
A couple of quotes from Rafael Sabatini's books—used as examples of great description—introduced me to his writing. Thanks to public domain and a Kindle, I downloaded two to read.

Being in the mood to be at sea, I chose to begin "The Sea-Hawk" as a light read for a busy time. The lack of much nautical action was disappointing, but that was about the only disappointment.

Sabatini keeps his readers guessing as to what will come next. The action moves one quickly along, yet the characters come to lif
...more
Nurul
The right book to pick this time, to quest my thirst on pirate story.

Sir Oliver Tressilian, an English gentleman, who later betrayed by his step brother. His journey brought him to the world of Muslim pirates and warriors which later made him converted to the 'true believers' and later known as Sakr-El-Bahr or the 'Sea Hawk'. As Oliver Tressilian or as Sakr-El-Bahr, he surely was a good man but always captured in bad situation and surrounded by jealous people.

Sabatini amazed me on how he descri
...more
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The Better Book C...: The Sea-Hawk 1 2 Jun 26, 2014 03:20PM  
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82608
Rafael Sabatini (1875 - 1950) was an Italian/British writer of novels of romance and adventure. At a young age, Rafael was exposed to many languages. By the time he was seventeen, he was the master of five languages. He quickly added a sixth language - English - to his linguistic collection. After a brief stint in the business world, Sabatini went to work as a writer. He wrote short stories in the ...more
More about Rafael Sabatini...
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“When all is said, a man's final judgment of his fellows must be based upon his knowledge of himself” 10 likes
“From somewhere in the blue vault of heaven overhead came the joyous trilling of a lark, from below the silken rustling of the tideless sea.” 0 likes
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