Oho! Tell me the end or ye’ll swing from the yardarm!

Who wrote this book and when?
Rafael Sabatini wrote this first of the “Captain Blood” novels in 1922.

Has there been a film made of this book?
Yes, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in the main roles. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1935.

Who are the main characters?
Dr. Peter Blood – an Irish doctor who is sold into slavery unfairly and then becomes a pirate
Ms. Arabella Bishop – the niece of a Caribbean plantation owner, a very independent girl
Jeremiah (Jeremy) Pitt – a boy sold into slavery with Blood, he is supposedly the composer of the narrative
Colonel Bishop – Blood’s owner and a plantation owner, he hates Blood
Don Miguel de Espinosa – the Admiral of the Spanish navy, he has a vendetta against Blood.

What’s it about?
Dr. Peter Blood is a former soldier who is now practicing medicine near Monmouth in Britain. One afternoon, many citizens of Monmouth revolt against the King and Blood is called on to help one of the wounded by Jeremy Pitt. While tending the man, all three are captured by the King’s forces. They manage to avoid immediate hanging through lying about their identities and are sent to trial where they are condemned to hang by Lord Jeffreys (a well known tyrannical judge).

However, rather than hanging the men, they send them to work the sugar cane plantations in Barbados. Instead of spending the rest of his life as a slave, Blood manages to find his way into piracy. His adventures become legend, as well as his reputation for mercy – all out of his love for a woman named Arabella.

Why is this book a classic?
Because any well-written pirate book is appealing to the masses. And since much of this novel is based on historical events it becomes even more fascinating.

Why should I read this book?
For fun. It isn’t a well-known classic nor is it a necessary read. But boy is it entertaining.

Has it won any awards?
No, but it was fantastically popular when it was first published. There are two sequels, “Captain Blood Returns” and “The Fortunes of Captain Blood.”

Favorite Quotes:
“It’s out of favour I am with the vinegary virgins over the way.” p8

“On my soul, that swarthy rascal has given his lordship a scare. It’s a pity he must hang. For a man who can frighten Jeffreys should go far.” – p 44

Anything else?
The character of Captain Blood is based on a man named Sir Henry Morgan, a man who was a “condoned pirate” of Britain against the Spanish and French who was known for his men’s brutality and his own cunning in battle and conquest. And yes, he is the “Captain Morgan” the rum brand is named after. You can read this book for free at Project Gutenberg.

Personal thoughts:
I was intrigued and swept up by this book immediately. Peter Blood is an entirely likeable and entertaining character. While I knew the outcome of this book from previous reading and allusion to Blood, I was still interested in finding the means to the end. The adventures read like a comic book – with action and deception working hand in hand to further Blood’s career. I was rooting for him through out the entire book because of his gallantry, wits, morality (even as a pirate) and his panache.
I was also attracted to the strong female character of Arabella Bishop. Her development as a character, even though she wasn’t included in much of the book, was wonderful. She reminded me very much of Elizabeth Bennet.