Linda's Reviews > Captain Blood: His Odyssey

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
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's review
Aug 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: classic, favorites, historical-fiction, fencing
Read in August, 2012

The physician Peter Blood is unjustly arrested for treason under unfortunate circumstances, and sold into slavery in Barbados. In the beginning of the book, before the trial, he doesn't even take sides in the ongoing political debate, but the circumstances changes him. When he and the other slaves escape the sadistic Colonel Bishop, they are desperate and adapt to their new life.

Spoiler's alert!

This is pure entertainment, and I really like the main protagonist for his sharp-witted, arrogant and ironic manner and the way he treats his pompous superiors and other people of high rang who think themselves important. When he loses his motivation, when Miss Bishop calls him a thief and a pirate, the only thing which will set him straight is a condescending glance from the M. le Baron Rivarol, and he is back in business. If he is going to be a thief and a pirate, he is going to be an excellent one.

One minor problem I found a little irritating is that the pirate museum in Nassau states that pirates had a certain codex to follow, and that included treating women gentlemanly. Either Nassau has it wrong, or Sabatini had a strong imagination, because most pirates in the book, except the main characters, seemed morally detached. Other flaws I found bothersome was in some of the encounters at sea where the victories seemed just a bit incredible. A third thing worth mentioning is Peter's somewhat naive characteristic, but this latter complaint might be a rather good description of a man, whose destiny forces him to change into someone he doesn't want to be. Peter isn't fit for piracy, but with a dominant authoritative manner and brains sharper than all the governors of the islands, he succeeds, never-the-less.

Even though Captain Blood is entertaining and adventurous, it has other qualities as well. It describes the social classes and conventions of the time, as well as the less fortunate states. Slavery and piracy were just different sides of the coin of unfortunate destiny back in the 17th century, the one not so different from the other. Both are a kind of imprisonment and detachment from the world, and when forced upon you, it's already too late to do anything about it to justify or redeem yourself. And despite Peter trying to come back to a normal life, prejudices, greed and jealousy in other men prevent him from reaching that goal, until the last chapter. What saves him in the end has ironically nothing to do with a change of mind by those men, or some agreement between them, but purely that the political alliances of the Glorious Revolution shift, and Peter goes from traitor to respectable in a matter of hours. This emphasizes the fact that our perception of the world, our view of right and wrong depends almost entirely on our surroundings. Peter is the exception, but it's only because he is open-minded, challenging and without much prejudice. This reminds me of Edmund Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo.

What I like best in this adventure novel is that Peter Blood maintains his honor, dignity and moral throughout the book, despite being treated unjustly, and that his strong-minded persistence pays off.
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08/25/2012 page 100
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Linda Haha! Guess you've a point!

message 3: by Rane (new)

Rane I remember watching Errol Flynn in Captain Blood although it doesn't stay to true to the book, still very fun and it has Errol Flynn! (big fan)

Linda I'm going to see the movie as soon as possible! Haven't seen anything with Flynn, but the expectations are high!

message 5: by Matt (last edited Sep 03, 2015 09:30PM) (new)

Matt "One minor problem I found a little irritating is that the pirate museum in Nassau states that pirates had a certain codex to follow, and that included treating women gentlemanly. Either Nassau has it wrong..."

They are more like guidelines, and varied from ship to ship. For the most part, the buccanneers code evolved from a need for would be sailors to protect their rights aboard ship, and so were mainly concerned with labor issues: the distribution of prizes, medical insurance, the punishments that would be inflicted for breeches of discipline, etc. They were rather like a simple corporate handbook. The use of the code help assure a potential crewman that the captain would be fair and just to them, and that they crew would adhere to a certain degree of professionality. Typical laws forbade crew members from gambling, fighting with each other, firing guns in the hold, sleeping on duty and so forth. Fair and just to prisoners was a far less important concern.

Treating captured women of a certain social standing well was a sound business decision, and not a moral one. Families were percieved as being less willing to pay if they thought the goods were damanged. Another equally important concern was that captured women could not be as easily shared as other prizes, and so they typically had a law to the effect of if we can't all have her, then no one does. This ensured the men that officers wouldn't recieve favors withheld the crew, and no one would get killed or hanged because they were 'sporting' when they should have been on watch or minding their duty. When off the ship, the laws didn't apply.

Linda Alright, I didn't know that, but that explains everything.

Bettie☯ Matt - love your Manny Calavera icon from Grim Fandango

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