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The Pyrates

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,125 Ratings  ·  89 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
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 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
Vit Babenco
Sep 18, 2013 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
Apr 20, 2008 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
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
Apr 28, 2011 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
Jul 23, 2011 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
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!
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.
Jun 26, 2008 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 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 :)
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Pants-wettingly funny and a cracking good read. Sa-HA!
David Cooper
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!)
Siegbald TheReader
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Peter Tillman
Not for me!
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
loved his Flashman books, but this was just garbage.
Shane Moore
Feb 26, 2017 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 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
Sep 10, 2015 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
Nov 28, 2007 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
Martha Greenough
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
fun, but dated
Ted Henkle
Dec 29, 2013 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.

Sep 22, 2015 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
Jun 05, 2012 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
Jan 14, 2008 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
Todd Jenkins
Feb 14, 2008 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
Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 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
Jul 16, 2015 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
Jan 07, 2008 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
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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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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