9780091155506 / 0091155509

Captain Blood





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About the book:

The book was a smash hit and was followed up with additional adventures of swashbuckler Peter Blood in numerous sequels. A salty dose of high-seas adventure for all fiction collections, this is the most affordable edition currently available.


The protagonist is the sharp-witted Dr. Peter Blood, an Irish physician who had had a wide-ranging career as a soldier and sailor (including a commission as a captain under the Dutch admiral De Ruyter) before settling down to practice medicine in the town of Bridgwater in Somersetshire. The book opens with him attending to his geranium whilst the town prepares to fight for the Duke of Monmouth. He wants no part in the rebellion, but whilst attending to some of the rebels wounded at the Battle of Sedgemoor, Peter is arrested. During the Bloody Assizes, he is convicted by the infamous Judge Jeffreys of treason on the grounds that "if any person be in actual rebellion against the King, and another person - who really and actually was not in rebellion - does knowingly receive, harbour, comfort, or succour him, such a person is as much a traitor as he who indeed bore arms." The sentence for treason is death by hanging, but King James II, for purely financial reasons has the sentence for Blood and other convicted rebels commuted to transportation to the Caribbean, where they are to be sold into slavery. Upon arrival on the island of Barbados, he is bought by Colonel Bishop, initially for work in the Colonel's sugar plantations but later hired out by Bishop when Blood's skills as a physician prove superior to those of the local doctors. When a Spanish force attacks and raids the town of Bridgetown, Blood escapes with a number of other convict-slaves (including former shipmaster Jeremy Pitt, the one-eyed giant Edward Wolverstone, former gentleman Nathaniel Hagthorpe, former Royal Navy petty officer Nicholas Dyke and former Royal Navy master gunner Ned Ogle), captures the Spaniards' ship and sails away to become one of the most successful pirates/buccaneers in the Caribbean, hated and feared by the Spanish. After the Glorious Revolution Blood is pardoned, and as a reward for saving the colony from the French, ends up as governor.

While Blood is a fictional character, much of the historical background of the novel is based on fact. The Monmouth rebels were sold into slavery as described in the book; Blood's pirate adventures and subsequent career borrow heavily from those of Sir Henry Morgan; and the shifting political alliances of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 are used in the novel as a plot device to allow Blood's return to respectability.

Captain Blood was an enormously popular work, and Sabatini wrote two additional novels featuring Peter Blood: Captain Blood Returns (1930) (retitled The Chronicles of Captain Blood in the British publication) and The Fortunes of Captain Blood (1936). Both of these books are episodic tales of Blood's pirate career rather than true sequels. (All the episodes are contained within the timeframe of the original novel, although Sabatini mistakenly dated one story "1690" despite the fact that Blood's piratical career had been established as ending in 1689, and two stories in Captain Blood Returns: "The War Indemnity" and "Blood Money" may be viewed as continuations of events that took place in the original novel.)

Peter Blood and his exploits are based on several individuals, Henry Morgan and Thomas Blood in particular.

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