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Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem
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1001 book reviews > Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem - Salgari

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message 1: by Gail (last edited Sep 15, 2019 09:59AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gail (gailifer) | 1385 comments Emilio Salgari, an Italian author, wrote at least 11 stories in this series about Sandokan, the Pirate. The titles are a touch confusing as the first story Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem is followed in the series by Sandokan: The Pirates of Malaysia. It is only the first story Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem that is on the 1001 list.

This is an adventure story with a very simple love story which has been called the foundations of "Spaghetti westerns". Our hero is bold, handsome, and brave and not too smart. Although described as cunning, he is so crippled with indecision around his love interest that his cunning is not too evident. For example, he is so anxious to see his love he sails into a hurricane with disastrous results. His love interest is blond, blue-eyed, half Italian/half British, gracious and falls in love with the Pirate for no apparent reason given that it means leaving her family, country, race, class, religion etc. There is no sex to speak of instead there is this:
"Their eyes, hers tearful and appealing, his shining with affection, met and locked for a long anxious moment."
The action includes a great deal of hand to hand combat, and many English naval encounters against small swift pirate boats. There is little character development and the action is not particularly well paced but there are some interesting literary conventions reflected in the books. Sandokan's second in command is decidedly cunning, incredibly loyal, and has more patience than our hero. He is also the one given the good lines. The line made famous in Star Wars movies: "I have a bad feeling about this"...comes from this book.
All and all, not really worthy of 1001 but I can imagine that its vast popularity as escapist fare was enough.


message 2: by Patrick (last edited Jul 16, 2020 01:42AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Patrick Robitaille | 933 comments ** 1/2

Stevenson made the pirate story genre hugely popular about 20 years before Salgari. While the former's Treasure Island contained more "romantic" ideas about piracy, the latter's Sandokan revolves more around the violent activities of pirates, that is, raiding boats and killing enemies (oh, let's not forget the infatuation which could end the main pirate's career). The plot of the novel is fairly plain (pirate falls in love, feelings reciprocated but she is promised to someone else, pirate plots and enacts kidnap, original suitor and his friends attack the pirate's island, etc.) and the characters are very lightly developed. True, the setting is not in the Caribbean, but mostly off the northwest shore of the island of Borneo. But that's where the thrill of exoticism stops: the novel is neither entertaining nor boring, rather predictable. Not sure whether the rationale to include this novel on the 1001 list was based on the fact that the action was in the Malaysia/Indonesia region (there is also Amok by Stefan Zweig after all); maybe the makers of the list should have dug deeper and find a real example of the literature of that region...


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