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Doctor Syn, a Smuggler Tale of the Romney Marsh (Doctor Syn #1)

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  184 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews

Posing as a respectable vicar in Dymchurch at the turn of the 18th century, Dr. Syn is actually the retired pirate Captain Clegg. Clegg, believed hanged in Rye, is no longer being sought by the authorities. However, country life proves too tame for the good "Dr. Syn," and his attention turns to smuggling. He takes on a secret identity, "The Scarecrow," and leads a gang of

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Published January 1st 1915 by Wildside Press
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Community Reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
Dec 14, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
An early "anti-hero" a clergyman (quiet and respectable) whose wife cheats on him and leaves him sending our hero, Dr. Syn off into a violent life as an avenger, terrorist (of his fleeing wife and her lover), pirate, smuggler, etc., etc., etc. following him till he became a Vicar and a smuggler at the same time (sporting the disguise of the "evil" Scarecrow)and was finally killed, (after defeating his enemy, having his ex-wife die in his arms raising their child and providing for her, heroically ...more
Sam Arnold
Jul 30, 2013 Sam Arnold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think half the reason I find this book so fascinating is that it is based in my home village and I grew up in one of the houses mentioned in the book
Will Klein
Dec 05, 2007 Will Klein rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: swashbucklers, adventure stories for boys
The Reverend Doctor Syn, the beloved and slightly addled vicar of Dymchurch Abbey, preaches loudly against the smugglers who cross from France, baked with his sexton Mister Mipps, a salty old sea dog prone to excessive yarning while in his rum cups... meanwhile the dangerous and mysterious Scarecrow leads the smugglers of Romney Marsh, aided by his vicious sidekick Hellspite... and when the King's revenuers descend upon Dymchurch, the young boy whose only goal is to grow up to become a hangman ( ...more
Nov 15, 2010 Steven rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Originaly written in 1915, that is the version presented here. It was re-written by an American in the 1960s, and that was what Disney based their movie (TV mini-series)on. I've not read the later version, so I can't compare the two.
The earlier review and even the blurb in this book, mentions events that do not happen in this edition - so I wonder if they've been edited out. Hmmm.
Of course, the book's main secret is widely known, so we can't judge it on that. the plot is now old, so we can't
Feb 26, 2014 Sylvester rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, ebook, 2014
Close to a 3*, but not quite. I liked all the smuggling stuff, and the irony of a pirate masquerading as a minister (especially with a name like Dr. Syn), it went a little over the top for me, though - a little pulpy. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily - but I need to be in the mood for it. I guess I wasn't this time. However, I've downloaded 3 other Dr. Syn titles, so!
Stephen Watson
Mar 13, 2013 Stephen Watson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful stuff. I loved the old Hammer films with Peter Cushing in the title role. It's all a bit fanciful but I'm such a lover of spooky, mysterious, smuggling adventures that I can't help but give it top marks.

There are some excellent descriptive phrases and laugh out loud funny bits too. Also, being a Norfolk man the descriptions of the flat, bare and empty marshes resonated with me strongly (I know this is set in Kent, but I'm sure the feeling is similar).

I've downloaded the entire series a
There is an Andrew Wyeth painting that marvelously captures the result of being Dr. Syn. It too is worth seeking out an image or print of as the original isn't available for public viewing as far as I know as of this writing.

I don't exactly remember when I first heard these particular part of Pirateology(sic) but grabbed up a copy of this the first time I saw it many years ago.

This gets one of my 'goodread' ratings.

ARggh, matey, sigh, I want to be a pirate. Only sort of really. No job security y
Robert Spencer
Sep 27, 2014 Robert Spencer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I can't wait to give to my kids to read when they are old enough (like, old enough to read Harry Potter and Hunger Games - there is some pretty dark material in this!) I picked this up while holidaying in an old oast house right in the middle of Romney Marsh, and the experience of reading it here has been just marvellous. I was already familiar with the Hammer film version, Captain Clegg, which I love, but I still found this quite a revelation. Thorndike has an unorthodox narrativ ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this series. I read it after I saw the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, but I preferred the books.
Aug 19, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was always intrigued by the Disney series of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. So I searched out the original source material.
I found a kinship with the the author Russell Thorndyke;
He was an actor, I am an actor.
He wrote about a costumed character The Scarecrow, I wrote a about a costumed character Skunk-Guy.
His books take place in his home town, My books take place in my home town.
I was immediately taken by the old writing style. It added to the charm of the the time period. It drew me into the
Feb 22, 2008 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can only dimly recall the Disney-fied version of this series (starring Patrick McGoohan, no less) back in the 1960's, but when someone mentioned these tales when I was visiting Rye, on the south coast of England, I was intrigued, for at the time smugglers and pirates had captured my imagination. Rye, in particular, had been a hotbed of smuggling, but virtually every town I visited along the south coast seemed to have its own historical set of local ne'er-do-wells that had operated in the area. ...more
Meg Mims
I don't know who wrote this: "In this thrilling masterpiece, Imogene and Denis, star-crossed lovers, find themselves caught between deadly forces and turn for help to the vicar, Doctor Syn" but that isn't quite the way the story goes that I just read! While I still enjoyed Doctor Syn, more than I expected given the love I have for the Disney movie 'The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh,' the best thing about the writing is the dialogue. If you need a sample of lower class English dialect in the Napoleon ...more
C Beard
Feb 14, 2015 C Beard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having seen the two films (Dr Syn (1936)and Captain Clegg (1962)) and the excellent Disney mini series The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (1963) I have to say I was slightly disappointed with the book. It seemed to lack the excitement of the films and television series and only got going about half way through.
Feb 05, 2014 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book in the series that inspired "Dr. Syn - The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" that aired on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color in the 60's. I remember enjoying the Disney version as a child so was excited to find these books available on the Kindle. A fun read!
Justin  K. Rivers
A mediocre re-hash of "The Further Adventures of Doctor Syn" by Russell Thorndike. It is NOT actually written by Thorndike, but by William Buchanan, who took parts of the plot, changed the characters around a bit, and gave it an ending. The result was a book that was made into a movie by Disney in the early 60's starring Patrick McGoohan and George Cole. To make matters worse, Disney then commissioned a novelization of the movie by a writer called Vic Crume. So if you read that one, you'd be rea ...more
Ruth ☆☽
This is an old book, published in 1915 and should be read with that in mind. The action is based in the Kent marshes around the time of the French Napoleonic wars. The narrative is 90% dialogue and the language is colloquial and a bit old fashioned. I imagine it would have appealed to youngsters of the age, but I think it would be too much out of the comfort zone for kids of today. Having said that, I enjoyed the tale - a rough & tumble smuggling yarn, told with a sense of humour, but which ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Rufus Sewell reads the swashbuckling 18th-century pirate adventure
May 04, 2015 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stumbled on this very very rare book at my local library of all places. A good stand alone story if you've never read any of the series and an entertaining combination of elements from the series for the fans.
Jack Phoenix
A marvelous, swashbuckling adventure and a true classic.
Jul 14, 2015 P.M. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it as well as the TV show inspired by it.
May 16, 2016 Ronald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
read some time in 1990
I remember loving this series on Wonderful World of Disney, but they've never made it available on DVD or even VHS,so the few copies out there are exorbitant. Then I found out it was based on a series of books available to read for free from Google books. So I'm going to give it a try. I read a lot of older books, so we'll see how these hold up.

It will be fun in any case to revisit "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh". :)
Chiffchaff Birdy
I love the dr syn books, the atmosphere they create is just marvellous especially if youve visited the romney marsh area. a book I can read and re-read. the radio 4 adaptations are also fantastic with rufus sewell.
Bcoghill Coghill
Such fun! An adventure story full of R. L. Stephenson characters, only less believable and tension thrills and mystery. Just a good romp and all one could ask for.
A strange mystery/horror tale of smuggling, demons and pirates. Fairly good even if it does seem to go a bit too weird towards the end.
Jan 02, 2010 Bryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly predictable, but great fun, this is classic swashbuckling sort of story, imagine a somewhat less gothic cousin of Du Maurier!
Best quote: "...for scoundrelism is after all only a point of view of some community. . . ."
Sep 13, 2013 Chip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, mystery
Apart from the one blank page in the middle of the book, a very fun read.
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Arthur Russell Thorndike (6 February 1885, Rochester, Kent – 7 November 1972) was a British actor and novelist, best known for the Doctor Syn of Romney Marsh novels. Lesser known than his sister Dame Sybil Thorndike but just as versatile, Russell Thorndike's first love was for the pen and, following service in World War I, he devoted himself to writing.
He was born in Rochester, Kent, where his fat
More about Russell Thorndike...

Other Books in the Series

Doctor Syn (7 books)
  • Doctor Syn On The High Seas
  • Doctor Syn Returns
  • The Further Adventures of Doctor Syn
  • The Courageous Exploits of Doctor Syn
  • The Amazing Quest of Doctor Syn
  • The Shadow Of Doctor Syn

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