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The Pyrates [Paperback]

George MacDonald Fraser
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 Jun 2008

Repackaged to tie-in with hardback publication of ‘The Reavers’ and to appeal to a new generation of George MacDonald Fraser fans, ‘The Pyrates’ is a swashbuckling romp of a novel.

The Pyrates is all the swashbucklers that ever were, rolled into one great Technicoloured pantomime – tall ships and desert islands, impossibly gallant adventurers and glamorous heroines, buried treasure and Black Spots, devilish Dons and ghastly dungeons, plots, duels, escapes, savage rituals, tender romance and steaming passion, all to the accompaniment of ringing steel, thunderous broadsides, sweeping film music, and the sound of cursing extras falling in the water and exchanging period dialogue. Even Hollywood buccaneers were never like this.

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The Pyrates + Mr American (Flashman Papers) + Black Ajax
Price For All Three: 20.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; New Ed edition (2 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006470173
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006470175
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The author of the famous 'Flashman Papers' and the 'Private McAuslan' stories, George MacDonald Fraser has worked on newspapers in Britain and Canada. In addition to his novels he has also written numerous films, most notably 'The Three Musketeers', 'The Four Musketeers', and the James Bond film, 'Octopussy'. George Macdonald Fraser died in January 2008 at the age of 82.

Product Description


Praise for ‘The Pyrates’

‘Its all there right down to a Dead Man’s Chest, cleavages that are everything they should be and characters in sea bootswho say nothing but “Arr!” and “Me Hearty!” in a plot that is wonderfully absurd.
Financial Times

‘Fabulous…you’ll want to stay up all night reading this one.’
Washington Post

‘The most wonderfully idiotic lovesong to swashbucklers ever set to Korngold trumpets. Fraser again proves himself the master.’
New York Times

Praise for ‘Black Ajax’:

‘Mr Fraser is a great historical novelist and in Black Ajax he is at the very top of his form. Damme if he ain’t.’
Christopher Matthew, Daily Mail

‘This is not a flashy novel, wearing its learning noisily. It’s rigorous, intelligent, meticulously horrifying. Wonderfully well done.’
Nicci Gerrard, Observer

Book Description

“An Unfathomable Delight” The New Yorker

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - slap me with a marlinspike else! 25 Oct 2004
Oh how good is this book? I first read it after I caught my dad chortling away with his nose stuck into it and now we have two copies in the house (one each) so we don't fight over it any more! Yes, the dialogue may be corny but that's what makes it so good. The action speeds across the seven seas and the modern touches are perfect. It's entirely silly and over-the-top but on a rainy Saturday I suggest you curl up with a mug of sometihng hot and sweet (possibly with a tot of medicinal brandy) and follow Long Ben Avery et al from the Atlantic to the Caribbean and all over the oceans, wi' a wannion. If you like swash-buckling old-fashioned adventure with a sense of merciless glee please read this book.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully silly stuff 1 Mar 2003
By Tryp
George MacDonald Fraser obviously had great fun writing this and it is a joy to join him and his characters on their adventures. Every pirate and adventure cliche going is in this and then some, hilariously ludicrous plotting, corny pirate speak and devilish villany abound. If you are a Flashman fan you may not go for this one, it's far more over the top than those books, much funnier though, a great way to spend a weekend.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood Buccaneers plus a little history 23 Mar 2003
I read this book when I was about 16 and almost two decades on it's still one of my favourites. Yes, it's very silly but it's silly in a way that pokes affectionate fun at those wonderful swash-buckling hollywood movies such as "Anne of the Indies" and "Blackbeard the Pirate". The characters are a mostly drawn from history (Colonel Blood, Ben Avery, "Calico Jack" Rackham and Anne Bonny were all real people) though they are all portrayed in a wonderful Hollywood way. This story has everything; A handsome hero, a caddish anti-hero, flashing eyed ladies o' quality, fierce indians, lost cities, buried treasure, desperate sword-fights on desert islands, d'ye see? Tall ships crewed by swarthy rogues in head scarves and eye-patches, spanish soldiery in breastplates and morions crying, "Caramba!" and failing to shoot straight. Damsels in distress, torture, danger, adventure and vasty booty, har, har, look'ee, wi' a curse!! The only similar concept that I can think of was "Strike!" by The Comic Strip.
At the end there is a short treatise on the historical characters. Believe me some of their stories are much stranger than anything dreamed up by Hollywood. Anyway, unless you are such a fan of Flashman that nothing else will do, I can heartily recommend "The Pyrates"
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The funniest pirate movie never filmed 8 Oct 2006
Author George MacDonald Fraser, the accomplished British author of the FLASHMAN PAPERS and the Private McAuslan trilogy, has also toiled as a Hollywood scriptwriter. And he's been fascinated by pirate stories all his life. Thus, in THE PYRATES, the reader is treated to what could serve as the script for the funniest, most outrageous buccaneer saga ever not put on film.

The hero of THE PYRATES is Captain Ben Avery, RN, the handsomest, most chivalrous, noblest, most incorruptible, bravest, most dutiful, and most unseducible man ever to wield an officer's sword on behalf of His Majesty. In Avery, as with every other of the novel's characters, Fraser has lovingly created a caricature. In any case, the time is "the old and golden days of England". King Charles occupies the throne. Ben is ordered to secretly convey a priceless crown to the King of Madagascar. On the same outbound ship are Admiral Lord Rooke and his gorgeous daughter Vanity. Of course, seafaring rascals capture the vessel, steal the crown, abandon Ben on a sandspit, and sell Vanity into white slavery. The tabloids (!) blame Avery for the debacle, and the remainder of the book has our superhero valiantly struggling to rescue honor, crown and Vanity from assorted scoundrels and near things. Of course, even the villains are occasionally endearing, especially if they're British, e.g. Colonel Blood, RA (Cashiered), a darker version of Avery without the ethics or meticulous dress code. And, needless to say, Captain Ben is besotted with Vanity, though his appreciation for her considerable charms is entirely platonic, anything more prurient unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Two of the previous three reviewers are decidedly po-faced. 'The Pyrates' is a definite one off - the funniest book I've ever read. I purchased it in a bookshop on the Isle of Wight many years ago and spent the rest of the holiday rocking with laughter and telling my wife "hey - listen to this bit!", on almost every page. Lovely irreverent mixing of historical and modern - the pirates listen to Free Radio Tortuga. A ball from start to finish. Pass the 'Old Jamaick'ee', if you can remember that. Ahaarr Jim Lad!! Avast behind!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Come back Harry Flashman all is forgiven 20 Nov 2012
By Peasant TOP 100 REVIEWER
I was hoping this would be in a similar vein to the great, unparalleled and utterly marvelous memoirs of H. Flashman Esq. If that is what you're hoping for, you'll be disappointed; it is a very different kettle of fish.

McDonald Fraser has written a meta-textual swashbuckler, replete with authorial comments, self-conscious in-jokes, gleeful anachronisms and cinematic references. This is a "marmite" matter - you'll either love this kind of thing or hate it. I would be displaying a personal bias if I marked the book down on solely that account. While I very much enjoy the accurate historical context which sends a shiver down the spine as Flashman lurches from near-miss to almost-disaster, I was prepared to hold my fire and read the book on its merits.

Sadly, I do not think McDonald Fraser pulls it off. The anachronisms are too many, too silly, and too jarring. But that is not all. The action sequences are written without the light touch we are used to, and the plot is too predictable, too repetitive. The humour doesn't work because none of the characters - not even the Flashman-like Colonel Blood - is sufficiently fully rounded and human, so we don't care enough about their misadventures, while the constant anachronisms undermine the effectiveness of the "in-period" stuff.

This could have been a fantastic book if Fraser had given it his best shot. Clearly he wanted to do something different, and he was getting on by the time he wrote it - but oh, we can only mourn the novel we didn't get; the one which might have consisted of Colonel Blood's narrative in plea for another free pardon, after events rooted in the real events of the Spanish Main. History is quite exciting enough without needing to jazz it up with lumps of Hollywood flummery.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but not Flashman
GMF's attempt at a pastiche swashbuckler. It reads like a movie script (and would have made a better movie than Pirates of the Caribbean, which it perhaps influenced). Read more
Published 3 months ago by PW
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pyrates
This book was a gift for my husband, he enjoyed it very much although it was different from the other George MacDonald Fraser books that he has read, I was impressed with the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Netty
5.0 out of 5 stars just hilarious
I've been looking for a copy of this book for awhile and it's just as funny as i remembered.
If you haven't read it just buy a copy.
Published 12 months ago by Mr Keeler
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality
After reading a number of Flashman books i knew this would be well written and was not dissapointed. The characters were all very well imagined. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars A joyful Hollywood spoof
I'm a sucker for the great Errol Flynn films - Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood...the beautiful Olivia de Havilland and the dashing villain Basil Rathbone (he and Flynn were... Read more
Published 22 months ago by J. Hood
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pyrates
A swashbuckling look at pirates. Done in a way that only George MacDonald Fraser can do with his attention to detail and his unique brand of humour. Read more
Published on 16 Jun 2011 by Spook Moor
5.0 out of 5 stars The screen-writers' screen-writer!
Avast ye, ye lubbers!
Let rip the Korngold fanfares, undo another button on your frilly-fronted shirt, buckle yer swash, hoist the main'sl and tarry forth to Tortuga! Read more
Published on 18 May 2011 by Mr. D. Pendry
5.0 out of 5 stars A rum do, not don't......
It's a deliberate satire of pirate movie tropes - and it is yoho hilarious......loved it years ago, look forrard to reading it again mes hearties. Read more
Published on 4 May 2011 by mermaid
4.0 out of 5 stars Huge fun
A dizzying, action-packed yarn that takes us from England to the Caribbean via Madagascar, with a cast of pirates, heroes, villains, lovable rogues, heroines and vixens. Read more
Published on 4 May 2011 by S. L. Parkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Lose yourself in a world of Pirates!
Is The Pyrates in the same league as Flashman? I wasn't sure when I started reading, but once I caught on that this is a spoof on a major scale I loved it. Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2010 by T-Bird1
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