Captain Blood

Captain Blood - Rafael Sabatini “I have a private score with this rascal and I intend to settle it.” Take that, you dogs! God this is good. Charismatic adventurer cum sawbones Peter Blood gets lippy with the King’s thugs during the 1685 Monmouth Rebellion, is banged up and dragged in front of the certifiable Judge Jeffreys at the Bloody Assizes before being transported to the West Indies and cast into slavery. How was your day? Still, I now want to be Captain Blood particularly if fiesty Arabella Bishop is flashing her eyes from the sidelines. One of the great piratical ur-texts and cited by George Macdonald Fraser as an influence on the Flashman novels and, obviously, “The Pyrates” (he was spot on about the excellence of this as an adventure romp) this zips along, has no boring bits, no historical discursions, no ironic distance, the perfect sprinkling of historical detail and brio to spare. Frankly, I just don’t see how this could possibly be done any better. Blood is no amoral rogue or indestructible hero, he’s got a value system and is pleasingly (sometimes terrifyingly) fallible and yet after attacking forts, quelling mutinies, escaping blockades (with a trick Game Of Thrones appears to have nicked for the Battle of Blackwater), dealing with Levasseur’s romantic folly and Cahusac’s naked cowardliness he still winds up leading a pirate army of a thousand men. Basically he professionalises piraticism and builds an empire. The only drawback of wallowing in something this enjoyable, this well-written, is you weep even more for the u-bend Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski sent pirate stories in “Pirates Of The Carribean”. Never mind Errol Flynn, this needs Fassbender as Blood, Rose Leslie as Arabella Bishop and Vincent Cassell as Levasseur. And we all know it would probably bomb at the box office because it doesn’t have Iron Man in it. “Heave that muck overboard!”