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The Pyrates

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,315 ratings  ·  110 reviews
The Pyrates is a comic novel by George MacDonald Fraser, published in 1983. Fraser called it "a burlesque fantasy on every swashbuckler I ever read or saw."
Written in arch, ironic style and containing a great deal of deliberate anachronism, it traces the adventures of a classic hero (Captain Benjamin Avery, RN, very loosely based on Henry Avery), multiple damsels in distre
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Lyons Press (first published November 17th 1983)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  1,315 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Vit Babenco
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What if piracy existed in the days of the television epoch? Then it would have been turned into a glamorous daily show.
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 the inanity of mainstream cinem
Dan Schwent
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
If swashbuckling is your thing, this is the book for you. Buckles swash all over the place, swinging from the rigging, swordfighting in dank dungeons, cutting a path through everyone standing in the way, and romancing gorgeous (occasionally homicidal) women. And then there’s plunder, sea battles, and gold doubloons aplenty. Ya’ar matey, sail ho!

This is George MacDonald Fraser, best known as the author of the comic Flashman novels, whose titular hero is a rogue, a bully, a coward, and just about
Apr 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nearly 400 pages of anarchic pirate silliness - but it stayed alive for me on the strength of Fraser's command of the story - the "tuppenny bloods and boys annuals", the historical novels of Rafael Sabatini, the movies of Fairbanks, Rathbone and Errol Flynn and other epics from the thirties and forties - all of this is baked into Fraser's DNA as a writer, and here it all is, synthesized into one giant, funny and brilliant yarn.

I think of it essentially as a tribute to the stories, movies, char
Apr 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisabet Sarai
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had previously read several books from the Flashman series, and knew that George MacDonald Fraser had a real knack for comedy. What I didn't realize before reading the bio in The Pyrates was that he wrote the screenplays for a number of successful films (including the James Bond film "Octopussy".

That cinematic experience is front and center in this hilarious take-off on pirate stories. The Pyrates offers fabulous characters, wonderful descriptions, and a very funny style. What you might not re
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-tree
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
Andrew Hill
Jan 20, 2011 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. ...more
🐴 🍖
fundamentally there are just 2 jokes here -- anachronism and 4th-wall-breaking -- but both are done beautifully. ("it fell off a sedan chair" as excuse for being in receipt of a stolen jewel was a personal fave.) come to think of it, coulda stood to be a little more anachronistic in referring to the non-anglo-saxon peoples of the world (d*goes? really dude?) but this kinda approach of picking & choosing from sentence to sentence where to be historically accurate suggests all sorts of comic possi ...more
Jamie May
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A romp through pirate trope. Satire of the old pirate swashbuckling movies.
Michael Sullivan
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly a huge influence on the pirates of the Caribbean films. It should be better known
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just re-reading this.
I had forgotten how funny it is in places. You probably need to have sat through all those old movies with the likes of Errol Flynn to get all the jokes, but even without, there are still moments to savour.
It is a glorious send up of every bodice ripping, sword waving, buckle squashing, avast me hearties story you have ever seen or read.

"You can't kill me, I'm the hero and it's only page 111."
"You might not be the hero."
"Don't be ridiculous."
Feb 22, 2010 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!
Jun 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Allison Thurman
Jan 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 :) ...more
Siegbald TheReader
I love Fraser's Flashman books, but this one was a bit disappointment for me.
It was basically a totally cheesy sketch, for a Mel Brooks-like comedy (as I know he indeed intented to write it as a movie sketch).
It was flat a too cartoonish for my taste.
A fun take on classic cliches. Reminds me of an adult novel version of the cartoon, “Dave the Barbarian”.

I have to admit, it takes a while to get used to the writing style of this book. There are a lot of heavy words, new vocabulary, and not to mention that the book starts off with a terribly long run-on sentence (I tried reading this book twice before actually pushing through with it and getting past the first few pages). But overall, once you get used to it, it’s an enjoyable tale and a funny
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and a delightful read. A farce for sure, and extremely well-done and written. I struggled with not giving 5-stars, and I'd definitely say it's a solid 4.5, generous soul that I am. I read the book relatively quickly, being bed-ridden with a back problem, and believe this to have further enhanced the experience, playing well into the author's frenetic pace and world-hopping storyline. Anyway, if you like some combination of (false and purposely-anachronistic) historical fiction and humo ...more
David Cooper
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: old-favorites
Laugh-out-loud funny, it helps to be familiar with a bit of 17th century British history and what the golden age of Hollywood did to it. And if you like to talk like a pirate, you won't find better pirate talk than in this book (wi' a wannion!) ...more
Erica Thomas
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
I really wanted to enjoy this book. The prose are hilarious and the descriptions lusious. But the 1980s sensibilities towards race and gender were just too much for me. When we got to the sexual assault jokes I had to put the book down.
This had all the potential to be a great read. However, I have to admit to getting fed up with all the Yo-Ho-Hoing after about 50 pages and so the book took me a lot longer to finish than I had anticipated.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good and enjoyable story. I think Fraser missed a trick by including all the anachronism for humor's sake. Without them, it still would have been great fun. ...more
Ross Henderson
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and ridiculous piratical adventure, brings to mind the fantastic humour from The Princess Bride, with a bit of Douglas Adams' absurdity thrown in. ...more
Angie Rhodes
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Funny, mad, pure escapism. Pirates of the Caribbean meet Monty Python.
Bill Aitken
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, as ever.

I've always been a fan of GMF. His style makes you wish you had known the man personally.

Read all of his works, say I, by the powers!
Michael Crowley
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
George Macdonald Fraser had a wicked sense of humor as well as a fine eye for historical detail, and it's on full display here.

I loaned this to my best friend, and he gave the ultimate review of "The Pyrates" by saying that humanity had missed a golden opportunity by not locking William Goldman and Fraser in a room with a bottle of whisky and refusing to let them out until they'd produced the adventure novel of all adventure novels.

Stephen Robert Collins
From The author of the Raffles style anti hero Flashman comes The Jolly Rodger before Captain Sparrow this Port Royal style Yoho Hoo And A Bottle of Rum
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd say Fraser had a lot more fun writing this book than I had reading it. ...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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