In September, I set sail for adventure on the high seas with the 1898 Italian classic, The Black Corsair by Emilio Salgari. Having already enjoyed two of Salgari’s other classic adventures: The Tigers of Mompracem and The Pirates Malaysia about the dashing pirate, Sandokan, I was excited to read another, when I was offered the chance by the translator, Nico Lorenzutti.
The Black Corsair is a swashbuckling revenge novel and one of the first pirate classics written, about a legendary Caribbean pirate, known as the ‘Black Corsair’, who is seeking revenge for his brothers, slain by the Duke Van Guld, the powerful governor of Maracaibo. Vowing never to rest until he has killed his foe and all those that bear his name, he enlists the help of the greatest pirates of his time: L’Ollonais, Michael the Basque, and Henry Morgan.
As we read further we discover, like Sandokan, that our corsair was not always a pirate, but was in fact once an Italian nobleman. He turned pirate when his eldest brother was killed during a siege, where the commanding officer turned tail and fled leaving his men to their fate; and you’ve guessed it that cowardly commander was Van Guld! So our corsair and his two remaining brothers set sail for the Caribbean in pursuit of the traitor, taking on the monikers ‘The Black Corsair’, ‘The Red Corsair’ and ‘The Green Corsair’.
While having wreaked havoc and terror across the Caribbean for many years, the brothers have been unable to get near to Van Guld, who is now safely ensconced in the fortified city of Maracaibo. Sadly now only ‘The Black Corsair’ is left and he has plans for a great do-it-or-die-trying final attack, with the help of his infamous pirate friends. What follows is a rollickingly good adventure, with battles, storms and sword fights; daring pursuits and escapes; across sea, land, islands and through jungle and marshes!
Similar to Sandokan, this is a very male orientated tale and the one woman we have is the corsair’s erstwhile love-interest, although I’ll give her her due she is certainly a brave lass. What this book lacks is a likeable sidekick, like Sandokan’s faithful friend Yanez De Gomera. Instead we just have our revenge-addled corsair and a motley collection of adoring crewman and allies. However I really liked how well the story is set in real history, as I found myself recognising many real characters and places I had previously read about in the fascinating history, The Golden Antilles by Tim Severin.
Overall, I thought The Black Corsair was a fun swashbuckling adventure, which was a good escapist read from the current stress and busy-ness of life! I look forward to reading more about the corsairs in Salgari’s second Caribbean adventure, The Queen of the Caribbean. ⭐⭐ Good read.
(Thank you to the translator for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion)
Now over to you: Have you read this? Or any of Emilio Salgari’s other swashbuckling adventures?
This is book #21 off my Classics Club II list.