Friday, June 8, 2012

The Black Swan by Rafael Sabatini

This is one of the Sabatini books that aren't available online for free, so I was keen to read it when I recently got the chance.

Miss Priscilla Harradine is travelling back to England from the Caribbean after her father's death, attended by the pompous Major Sands, when their ship is attacked and captured by the fearsome pirate Tom Leach in his ship the Black Swan. The only man who can save them is Charles de Bernis, the fascinating French adventurer who joined their ship just before the attack--a former buccaneer himself, a lieutenant of Henry Morgan, and an excellent swordsman. Surrounded by pirates of the foulest complexion, with two people relying on him and a secret plot of his own to carry out--M. de Bernis is going to need all his wits to get out of this one.

This is marshmallow literature, light on character, theme, and even plot. While Sabatini wrote a few good books (Captain Blood, for example), this is not one of them. Although the book never really dragged, the plot is so insubstantial that I felt it could have been half the length--and indeed, it's as I suspected: it started life as the short story, The Duel on the Beach, before Sabatini expanded it into novel form. 

I begin to think that Sabatini was one of those mediocre writers--the type that has one or two good books in him, but then writes twenty.

2 comments:

TJC said...

Just in case you are going up to Castlemaine- Bendigo way there is a second hand book shop in Campbell's Creek. (Just outside of Bendigo). It has a really great section on old "classics" which include (I think) all of Q's novels and quite a few Sabatini's for around $5-$8 each. If you ever go up that way it might be worth checking out. By the way have you ever read Captain Marryat's books? I don't mean the Children of the New Forrest and Settler's in Canada but his older books. Peter Simple, Mr. Midshipman Easy and the like. There are a couple in his older section that aren't worth reading but you might enjoy them and in my humble opinion they are better than Sabatini's

Suzannah said...

That sounds wonderful! Thanks for the recommendation. I have read the Children of the New Forest and have heard of Captain Marryat's other books...I shall hunt them up; thanks for the recommendation!

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