... the glorious Captain Blood!
Well, maybe not everyone is, but I certainly am! I've dropped bread crumbs here and here partially explaining why I love this book so much. After reading it a second time I realized this book needed its own blog post so here we go!
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini is the story of Peter Blood; a physician who gets caught up in the rebellion against King James II and is sentenced to be sold into slavery for attending to an injured rebel. He is then bought by Colonel Bishop, a plantation owner in Barbados. When it’s discovered Peter is a physician, he is lent out to attend to prominent officials of the island and becomes the Governor’s favorite. He’s allowed some limited freedom to wander the island where he chit chats with the Colonel's niece, Arabella Bishop, and you can tell they totally have the hots for each other but they’re too polite about it but they are so perfect for each other and you’re ready to plan their wedding ceremony for them. Then Peter Blood escapes with some other slaves while Spanish ships attack the town and that's when it gets good because they then hijack the attacking ship! And Dr. Peter Blood becomes Captain Blood:
and he's clever, dangerous and along with his crew of former slaves, they totally pirate the hell out of the Caribbean!
One of the reasons I love this book so much is the writing. Let me show you some of my favorite excerpts:
“A doctor – you?” Scorn of that lie – as he conceived it – rang in the heavy, hectoring voice.
“Medicinae baccalaureus,” said Mr. Blood.
“Don’t fling your French at me, man,” snapped Hobart. “Speak English?”
Mr. Blood’s smile annoyed him.
“I am a physician practicing my calling in the town of Bridgewater.”
The Captain sneered. “Which you reached by way of Lyme Regis in the following of your bastard Duke.”
It was Mr. Blood’s turn to sneer. “If your wit were as big as your voice, my dear, it’s the great man you’d be by this.”
For a moment the dragoon was speechless. The colour deepened in his face.
“You may find me great enough to hang you.”
“Faith, yes. Ye’ve the look and the manners of a hangman. But if you practice your trade on my patient here, you may be putting a rope round your own neck. He’s not the kind you may string up and no questions asked. He has the right to trial, and the right to trial by his peers.”
And another one:
And he swung away again, leaving her faint and trembling in the arms of her anguished mother. His men stood, grinning, awaiting orders, the two prisoners now fast pinioned.
“Take them away. Let Cornet Drake have charge of them.” His smouldering eye again sought the cowering girl. “I’ll stay awhile – to search out this place. There may be other rebels hidden here.” As an afterthought, he added: “And take this fellow with you.” He pointed to Mr. Blood. “Bestir!”
Mr. Blood started out of his musings. He had been considering that in his case of instruments there was a lancet with which he might perform on Captain Hobart a beneficial operation. Beneficial, that is, to humanity.
And one more:
It came to Mr. Blood, as he trudged forward under the laden apple-trees on that fragrant, delicious July morning, that man – as he had long suspected – was the vilest work of God, and that only a fool would set himself up as a healer of a species that was best exterminated.
Sorry, can’t help myself:
It was not until two months later – on the 19th of September, if you must have the actual date – that Peter Blood was brought to trial, upon a charge of high treason. We know that he was not guilty of this; but we need not doubt that he was quite capable of it by the time he was indicted. Those two months of inhuman, unspeakable imprisonment had moved his mind to a cold and deadly hatred of King James and his representatives.
Who writes like this now?!
But what makes this story so great is that despite being driven into piracy to escape his enslavement, Captain Blood has a moral code he follows. There are only certain ships they will attack and he will not harm innocents. All he really wants is to be a good person and would love more than anything to return to his home country to his quiet life that was unjustly taken from him. It's an adventure, a love story and it's full of wit, action and you really care for the characters. It has everything I look for in a good story.
Another reason this book is so wonderful to me is that I discovered it on my own. I had not read any other reviews for it; it didn’t come up as a recommendation on Amazon or from anyone else. I don’t know how else I would have found this book if I hadn’t just typed in “pirates” at Project Gutenberg. There's this magical feeling you get when you find that book that seems to just leap into your hands when you’re not specifically looking for it. I’ve only had that happen once before and it was with Redwall. Just something I happened across and will forever be with me.
This book was so much better the second time. I have officially woobified it and decided Captain Peter Blood will now be my blog mascot.