Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Fiction
Set during the days of the Buccaneers, this tale of adventure and revenge opens with a small boat, rowed by two men, approaching a pirate ship. Carmaux and Van Stiller, who followed the Red Corsair, bring sad tidings to the man who captains this vessel. The Governor of Maracaibo, a Flemish count named Van Guld, is now responsible for the deaths of all three of the Black Corsair’s brothers – one through betrayal and two by hanging them for piracy. As the Red Corsair’s body sinks into the sea, the Black Corsair vows to hunt down and slay not only his nemesis, but also all who bear his name.
On the voyage back to Tortuga, the Buccaneers happen upon a rich prize bound for Maracaibo. Under the guidance of the Black Corsair’s second in command, a young man named Henry Morgan (destined to become the greatest of the Buccaneers) leads the boarding party that captures the Spanish ship. Aboard is the beautiful Honorata Willerman, a Flemish duchess who captures the Black Corsair’s heart even though a gypsy once foretold the deaths of his three brothers, and that a beautiful woman he loved would lead to his own demise.
When the Thunder reaches Tortuga, the Black Corsair joins with Jean David Nau, the infamous L’Ollonais, and Michael the Basque to attack Maracaibo with a fleet of eight heavily armed ships and 650 pirates. Honorata is to remain on Tortuga, but with the help of Carmaux and Van Stiller, as well as Moko the snake charmer, she stows aboard the Thunder. Just before the Black Corsair and his men disembark to attack the wealthy city, she and the Black Corsair confess their love and he explains why he seeks vengeance on the governor. Will he succeed? Will his brothers finally rest in peace? And if he returns, what then? How will the Black Corsair react when he learns Honorata’s secret?
I am indebted to Nico Lorenzutti, who has translated some of Salgari’s novels from the original Italian, for introducing me to this author. The Black Corsair, first published in 1898, is an exciting tale of swashbuckling intrigue and honor. The lush tropics with its beautiful, yet deadly, flora and fauna come to life as the Black Corsair and his men face danger and quandaries not easily solved. Originally written when few had visited South America and the Caribbean, Salgari renders the exotic jungles in a manner reminiscent of the accounts written by the Buccaneers themselves, men like Lionel Wafer and William Dampier. History has left us with a one-sided view of the sadistic Nau, but Salgari brings this notorious pirate to life in such a way that the reader meets a three-dimensional character with both a good and a bad side. While some elements of piratical history are seamlessly woven into the story, Salgari steps away from the story at one point for a brief explanation as to who, what, and when about the Buccaneers. Fans of Rafael Sabatini and Captain Blood or his other swashbucklers will enjoy finding another author who writes in a similar vain. Readers who like heroes who are bigger than life and have dark sides will soon find themselves fans of Emilio Salgari’s works. As a reader, I fall into both categories and as I read The Black Corsair, childhood memories of curling up on a stormy day to read about heroes forced into lives of crimes to right wrongs and rescue fair maidens in the clutches of wicked villains surfaced.
Read the first 3 chapters
Learn more about Emilio Salgari
Meet the Black Corsair
Special Note: In 2009 Julia Eccleshare featured Sandokan: The Tigers of Mompracem in her 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.Book Review Copyright ©2011 Cindy Vallar
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