Posts Tagged ‘sabatini’

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Captain Blood Day: The Romantic Prince

September 19, 2013

So, Captain Blood Day. Yay!

Actually, though, I completely forgot about it until last week, so instead of thinking seriously about which Sabatini book I might want to talk about next, I just grabbed The Romantic Prince off my bookshelf. I read it once before — whenever Batman Begins came out, if the ticket stub I was using as a bookmark is any indication — and I recalled being pretty pleased with it.

If you’ve spent any significant amount of time reading Redeeming Qualities, you’ll know that I’m kind of fascinated by the way novelists solve problems. In particular, there’s a thing you get a lot in romance and adventure novels, where the hero is situated in such a way that it would be dishonorable for him to take any action whatsoever to resolve whatever issue he’s having. And often, as it is here, the issue is mostly just that the hero can’t be with the heroine. And sure, I love the resultant pining, but I also love watching the author’s resultant struggle to steer the characters to a happy ending without in any way impugning their honor. That’s Rafael Sabatini’s principal task in The Romantic Prince, so obviously it’s a lot of fun to me. It doesn’t hurt that the actual barriers keeping Count Anthony of Guelders and Johanna Claessens apart are strong enough that Sabatini doesn’t have to resort to the completely avoidable misunderstandings he seems to like so much. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Fool’s Love Story

October 4, 2012

You know how sometimes your daily life saps your will to do anything you’re not actually required to do? So, yeah. That. But I wanted to drop by to talk about “The Fool’s Love Story”, which I read on the tail end of the Sabatini kick that started with my reread of Bardelys the Magnificent.

It looks like The Fool’s Love Story might have been Sabatini’s first published story — it’s the first listed on the uncollected stories list on rafaelsabatini.com, and…it reads young. It’s about a Hofknarr, or court jester, in a small German kingdom in the mid-17th century. He’s in love with a young woman who’s engaged to an unworthy Frenchman, and it doesn’t end too well for anybody, really, unless you count the fact that I was completely delighted by it. Which was why I wanted to say something about it, but probably not in the way you think.

This is the thing: this story is pretty terrible. The plot is ridiculous, the writing is more than ridiculous, and you’re sort of plopped down in the middle of a fully formed emotional situation that never really changes. Also, dying heroically and tragically tends to go over a little better if there’s a point to it. But it’s Sabatini, who pretty much always gets me where I live, and I was totally sold by the time I hit “lean, sardonic countenance,” halfway through the first sentence.

Basically, I suspect this is one for the Sabatini devotees — and I’d be interested to know if I’m right.

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Captain Blood Day: Bardelys the Magnificent

September 19, 2012

Happy Captain Blood Day, everyone! You can observe this holiday by reading adventure novels, trading witty barbs with people trying to unjustly sentence you to death, or, okay, talking like a pirate. But only if the pirate is Peter Blood.

I felt bad posting a negative review of a Sabatini book on Captain Blood Day last year, so this year I made sure to choose a book I know I like. And actually Bardelys the Magnificent is super appropriate as a follow up to The Suitors of Yvonne. It’s not just that it’s full of French courtiers for whom dueling is always a viable problem-solving tool — Bardelys the Magnificent came out four years after The Suitors of Yvonne and it frequently reads like Sabatini’s (successful) attempt to reshape that book into something, you know, good.

The bottom line is that sometime between 1902 and 1906, Rafael Sabatini acquired a knack for writing likable main characters, and I have yet to come across a later instance where it failed him. So there’s Gaston de Luynes, who is massively hateful, and then in between there’s the guy from The Tavern Knight, who’s just kind of irritating, and then there’s Bardelys, who’s got really poor judgment and terrible timing, but who I like quite a lot. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Captain Blood Day: The Suitors of Yvonne

September 19, 2011

I hate to do this. I can’t believe I’m doing this. Here, for Captain Blood Day, is a bad review of a Rafael Sabatini book. But, given the book itself. I couldn’t very well have written a good one. And it’s not like I uncritically love all of Sabatini’s other books. This one is his first novel, The Suitors of Yvonne, and while I probably wouldn’t have been sure it was by Sabatini if his name wasn’t in the title page (and if, you know, I hadn’t known for years that his first novel was called The Suitors of Yvonne) you can sort of see hints of what he’s going to be like later.

For instance, Sabatini’s heroes are almays saying really cleverly insulting things to people they don’t like. And because they’re so cool and self-posessed and have such clever senses of humor and we know they’re all romantic and sensitive on the inside — and because their enemies are usually warped caricatures of human beings — it’s fun.

Gaston de Luynes, hero of The Suitors of Yvonne, is not like that. He is, in fact, kind of an asshole. I mean, he’s got the insulting part down, but not the clever part, and certainly not the sensitive part. Mostly, he’s just offensive. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Captain Blood Day 2010

September 19, 2010

Happy Captain Blood Day! This, as you may remember, is my fairly arbitrarily designated Rafael Sabatini-centric holiday.

I’m not doing anything special to celebrate — although if you want to discuss how awesome Peter Blood is in the comments section I would be happy to join you — but I do want to set something up for next year. Namely this:

Let’s have a contest. Anyone who wishes to enter can write a piece on Captain Blood — a review, the story of how you first read it, whatever — and email it to me anytime within the next year. On September 19th 2011, they will be posted, and one will win a prize. I’ve only just thought of this, so I’m still working out the details, but I can promise that the prize will be worth having.

I want this to be super low pressure. You don’t have to write an essay. I don’t care whether I get a book review, a memoir, or a haiku. Have fun. My email address is in the sidebar.

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One month to Captain Blood Day

August 19, 2010

I realize I’m not getting a very high rate of audience participation here, but I’d appreciate it if you could take the time to press a button or two.

And if so, would you mind letting me know which ones?

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Happy Captain Blood Day!

September 19, 2009

So, September 19th is the day Peter Blood is sentenced to slavery in Barbados — if he’d been tried any sooner, he would have just been sentenced to death, instead of having the opportunity to become the coolest pirate ever. So you should celebrate, preferably by reading — or rereading — some Sabatini. Here are a few suggestions. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Captain Blood Day, 2008

September 19, 2008
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.  It says something
for his fortitude that in all the circumstances he should still
have had a mind at all.  Yet, terrible as was the position of this
entirely innocent man, he had cause for thankfulness on two counts.
The first of these was that he should have been brought to trial at
all; the second, that his trial took place on the date named, and
not a day earlier.  In the very delay which exacerbated him lay -
although he did not realize it - his only chance of avoiding the
gallows.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Happy Captain Blood Day!

September 19, 2007

Today is September 19th, which means that it’s also Captan Blood Day, a holiday of my own invention.

See, a number of years ago, after a rereading of Captain Blood, the fact that Peter Blood is tried for treason on the 19th of September stuck in my mind, and I began to notice lots of other things that happened on the 19th. And, you know, the more things you remember in connection with a date, the easier it is to remember. So I figured, since I remember it, why shouldn’t I celebrate it? Captain Blood certainly deserves to be celebrated.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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More advertisements.

September 12, 2007

The Sea-Hawk

By RAPHAEL SABATINI I2mo. Cloth. $1.25 net.

Sabatini has startled the reading public with this magnificent romance. It is a thrilling treat to find a vivid, clean-cut adventure yarn. Sincere in this we beg you brothers, fathers, husbands, and comfortable old bachelors, to read this tale and even to hand it on to your friends of the fairer sex, provided you are certain that they do not mind the glint of steel and the shrieks of dying captives.

The Woman in the Car

By RICHARD MARSH 12mo. $1.35 net.

Do you like a thrilling tale? If so, read this one and we almost guarantee that you will not stir from your chair until you turn the last page. As the clock struck midnight on one of the most fashionable streets of London in the Duchess of Ditchling’s handsome limousine, Arthur Towzer, millionaire mining magnate, is found dead at the wheel, horribly mangled. Yes, this is a tale during the reading of which you will leave your chair only to turn up the gas. When you are not shuddering, you are thinking; your wits are balanced against the mind and system of the famous Scotland Yard, the London detective headquarters. The men or women who can solve the mystery without reading the last few pages will deserve a reward, — they should apply for a position upon the Pinkerton force.

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Captain Blood

March 6, 2007

Captain Blood is not only my favorite Sabatini novel; It’s one of my favorite books, period. See, it’s got pirates. The Sea Hawk has pirates, too, but it also has many unreasonable and/or painful bits, including an inexplicably evil younger brother. At some point, I will post about inexplicably evil younger brothers. They turn up more often than you’d think.

Anyway, Captain Blood:

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Scaramouche

March 5, 2007

Like L.T. Meade, Rafael Sabatini is an old favorite of mine. Compared to her, he didn’t write that much — only about forty books. But that’s plenty, and anyway, he was a better writer. He also wrote a few history books, and was very careful about the history in his novels. I’ve read his book on Torquemada, and for a book on the Spanish Inquisition, it’s a pretty good read.

At their best, Sabatini’s books are full of snarky gentleman heroes, beautiful, boyish, ridiculously gullible girls, and lots of swashbuckling. And Scaramouche is definitely one of his best. It was also the first Sabatini I read, after coming across a reference to it in Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas. Scaramouche was Sabatini’s first big success, and is usually considered one of his two best books. Personally, I prefer Captain Blood, which is the other, but Scaramouche is pretty fantastic, too.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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