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2.9 out of 5 stars26
2.9 out of 5 stars
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on 2 December 2007
This book is a prime example of an author delving deeply into the history books to create a world full of accurate details and realistic settings but forgetting that his main job is telling an engaging story... It all seemed to flit from one place to another without any real characterisation, while the end was (how else to put it) a bit of a damp squib... It's a shame, nice ideas, poor execution...
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Other reviewers have pointed this out, but Corsair is an unusual historical novel. The norm is to have a story set in a historical period which provides an engaging backdrop to the narrative. Here the narrative seems to take second place to excessive information about the era. The balance just doesn’t work.

The hero of the story is Hector Lynch, an Irishman taken as a teen by slavers. He is both too clever and too lucky, each time he gets himself into a situation there is an easy out, and he also lacks depth as a character so it becomes hard to care anyway. His sister was also taken and there is a theme about him trying to track her down, but this is resolved in about three dull pages and then Hector rolls onto his next unlikely escapade. Hector is also the focal point for us to be educated about the era, “What is that?” he might ask and of course the response is used to tell us all sorts of in depth detail. Too much in-depth detail.

This does really read as if a historian has wrapped a story around a historical period, but without the art and craft of story-telling. This is just flat and horrible. I had been looking forward to this and thought the author might be my kind of writer, but I think I’ll give him a miss from now on.
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Tim's brand new series to sail the seven seas with. Whilst we have come to know Tim as not only a practical author who has completed challenges to see how accurate the documentation or oral tales of the times are but also on the level of technologies of our ancestors were, we have also come to respect him for his hugely energetic and fast action paced Viking Trilogy adventure.

What I came to expect and hoped for with this new series made it one of my highlights for the second part of this year. Alas I was left feeling a little cheated with the first novel, well that's not exactly accurate the beginning piece left me feeling cheated whilst the rest of the novel took a while to build up my trust in his talent. Why was this? Well personally I felt that we really didn't get a chance to know the principle protagonist in much the same way that we did with his other series and as such made it difficult to come to grips with the challenges of his life let alone the agonies to which he was afflicted.

However as the novel continued we did get a glimpse of the talent that made me sit up and listen to his earlier fiction and gently brought me back into the type of tale I have come to expect. Whether this first novel was designed to be more of an introduction to his world rather than a full throttle excitement is what we will have to wait to see, yet we know that the next novel in the series will see not only massive challenges for our heroes but also allow the reader to see how each of them will rebuild their lives after the events in the first installment, whether I'd buy this novel before the second part is available I think that I'd probably leave it. This is due to my own chain of thoughts that if the second installment is going to do what I suspect it will, it will make the series a hard to put down necessity. I just hope that this is going to be the case and that Tim will not prove to be a one fiction series author.
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on 13 September 2011
Corsair - Tim Severin ****

This in the first book in a trilogy following the trials and tribulations of Hector Lynch. Set in the 17th Century it is a historical adventure novel. He is abducted from his home, along with his sister, in Ireland by a Corsair, then sold off as a slave.

In order to be treated more fairly in his role as a slave he decides (with a friend called Dan) to take the turban and convert from christianity to islam. However when he takes to the sea in a robbing spree his ship is attacked and he becomes once again a slave, this time however to the Christians.

Joined by 3 friends (a french burglar, a fellow slave & a mutilated christian) we follow his life from country to country and enslaver to enslaver.

Not a bad book, but occasionally read like a school textbook with the author seeming more intent on facts than plot. I was bordering on 3 or 4 stars for the book, but I think I learnt a few new facts along the journey so gave it a 4l

Would I read the rest of the trilogy? I'm not sure, but you never know.......
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on 10 April 2011
I am surprised at the reviews below. I think this book is exactly what it makes out to be. A historical adventure novel. There is great attention to detail and yet it is still easy to read. I agree that the characters are a bit shallow, but for me this story was about the adventure, not the protagonists. Some of my most favourite, and developed characters didnt seem to last too long, and that is a shame but overall, I found myself turning the pages eager to get to the next part of the story.

In short: If you love that in-depth character of Dosteyevsky et al. This is not a book for you. HOWEVER, if you just want a bit of a historical whimsical adventure, then buy it, read it, and enjoy the story.
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VINE VOICEon 4 November 2009
It is quite a trick to make a sea-faring tale about being abducted by pirates and taken off to the slave markets of North Africa tedious, but I am afraid Mr Severin has managed it with 'Corsair.' His research is clear to see, but this is not supposed to be a non-fiction book; it is sold as an adventure and, candidly, it's slightly less exciting than a nil-nil draw in the Bundesliga screened live on ESPN.

The central character should be okay - strapping Irish lad - but he seems to treat being abducted with deathly equanimity. Every single person he bumps into is there to help him and - more importantly - relay chunks of 'research' about how slavery operates or navigation or whatever. When they've done that, they conveniently die - sometimes 'off screen.' I got two hundred pages in - having yawned my way through a thoroughly badly-written sea battle and sinking - before deciding enough was enough and putting it down. I just didn't care about the story or any of the 'characters' and one has to use the term lightly.

This is the sort of book that makes you despair. We get all this rubbish from publishers about how inundated they are with unusable scripts from new authors and yet they choose to publish this tripe, which any reasonably intelligent reader knows is light years from being in a state that people should be expected to pay money for it. The research is fine, but you can't have novels without plot or characters. Some clown green-lighted this one and if it made money, it was people bought it on the strength of the cover and blurb, not through any quality. Cynical stuff. Avoid.
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VINE VOICEon 15 December 2013
Set in the late 1670's and early 1680's, Corsair is real adventure tale set on the high seas, the Mediterranean, North Africa, deserts and coast. Wonderfully descriptive, full of adventure, intrigue, history, pain, suffering and joy. Hector Lynch the hero and main protagonist of the the story lives in a small isolated Irish village and his life is quite uneventful until one fearful night the village is raided by Barbary corsairs and Hector and his sister and a group of young men and women from the village are kidnapped and taken away to Algiers in North Africa where they are sold as slaves. Hector's tale becomes ever more interesting and exciting and he manages to negotiate and duck and dive his way out of several very dangerous situations. Along with his fellow captive, Dan, a Miskito Indian from the Caribbean and Jacques Bourdon a slave from. French naval galley they make a fine team driven on together by Hectors desperate attempts to discover what has happened to his sister and hopefully to free themselves from their desperate situation. I absolutely loved this book and it is clear that author Tim Severin knows his facts as there is a lot of historical accuracy in this novel. Wonderful and I have bought the next book in the series to find out what happens next to Hector Lynch and his companions.
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on 6 September 2010
I think the trouble is with reviews on Amazon is that people either give a very high score or very low score. I have read Corsair and Buccaneer, and I think they are both entertaining books. Buccaneer is superior. The story in Corsair does jump about and there are conincidences, but that is the case in life too sometimes. Also you need luck and coincidences for Hector Lynch to survive and take part in the stories in the Caribbean and Far East. I have no problem with characters dying, although it is a pity when it's a chracter you like. I read the book White Gold - Giles Milton which was about the North African slave trade, and that's what got me interested in reading this book. Corsair is worth buying and reading.
I will also go out and buy Sea Robber in the near future.
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on 4 February 2009
Corsair is set in the 17th century. Seventeen year old, Hector Lynch and his fifteen year old sister, Elizabeth are captured, along with a number of other people, when Barbary Pirates attack their small village on the southern coast of Ireland. The story revolves around Hector, and the people he meets, in his attempts to be reunited with his sister.

I thought this book was a fairly enjoyable novel. A big plus is that the author has clearly researched his history of the period. The customs, dress and the people of the era are well described. There is a few good action scenes as well, both on land and sea.

Two things stop me giving this novel more than three stars, though. The character development was okay, but not fantastic, and the ending was a bit of an anti-climax.
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on 10 May 2009
I read Tim Severin's Viking trilogy and whilst it it was not brilliant it gave me enough confidence in him to make me try his new Hector Lynch series. My confidence was slightly misplaced, however. This book starts in mediocre fashion and continues in the same vane. The characters are a bit shallow and the plot is bit disjointed.

Having said all that I did learn something as Mr Severin's great strength is his historical accuracy. Before reading this book I had no idea that the shores of Europe were raided so regularly by pirates and that the French were still using galley slaves in the 17th century.
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