Where are the books (paperback fiction) with pirates as the characters?
December 10, 2013 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Do they even exist in any substantial numbers?

FIL has devoured all of the Louis L'Amour paperback westerns we can supply him with. Now he says he wants to read books about pirates. I can find non-fiction on the subject of piracy, children's books about pirates, and your basic bodice-ripper with the Fabio-like, stud pirate on the cover. But, the number of books where pirates are the main characters seems pitifully small. (My guess is that unlike in westerns - where good guys take on the bad guys - there aren't "good guy" pirates who could serve as a protagonist.)

Am I missing something? Can you point me in the right direction?
posted by John Borrowman to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Not about pirates, but has a pirate as one of the main characters:
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure
posted by Grither at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not explicitly pirates, but with plenty of swashbuckling, etc - the Captain Alatriste series by Arturo Perez-Reverte might serve.
posted by Bourbonesque at 9:41 AM on December 10, 2013

See if any of these look good. And of course, you should begin with Treasure Island!
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:41 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Scott Lynch's excellent Gentleman Bastards series features a long stretch in the second book (Red Seas Under Red Skies) featuring piracy by the protagonists.
posted by Etrigan at 9:42 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Rafael Sabatini's Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk. (Both were also made into movies.)
posted by Area Man at 9:43 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're looking for Rafael Sabatini: Captain Blood, The Sea-Hawk, and The Black Swan. At least a couple of them are free at Gutenberg.org, but paperbacks are still in print. They are fantastic.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:45 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Tim Powers' 1987 book On Stranger Tides is excellent and chock-full of pirates. Weirdly, the plot is sort of closer to what they did for the first Pirates of the Caribbean, but they bought the rights and mined other parts of the plot for the fourth Pirates movie. Anyway, Powers is great, I recommend him to everyone, and this is a really awesome, dark, eerie book.
posted by PussKillian at 9:54 AM on December 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

I'm a big fan of On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers.
posted by ChrisLTD at 9:56 AM on December 10, 2013

Michael Crichton wrote a pirate novel that was discovered in his papers after his death. It's called Pirate Latitudes and was enjoyable.
posted by SeedStitch at 10:06 AM on December 10, 2013

Robert Girardi wrote a book called The Pirate's Daughter which I enjoyed. Also the Scott Lynch.
posted by jeather at 10:12 AM on December 10, 2013

For a hilarious over-the-top send-up of pirate swashbucklers, you could try George MacDonald Fraser's The Pyrates.
posted by zeri at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2013

I have not yet read it but just purchased Cinnamon and Gunpowder.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:56 AM on December 10, 2013

Response by poster: Well, I obviously haven't been paying attention.

Thank you, thank you, thank you MeFites.
posted by John Borrowman at 11:19 AM on December 10, 2013

I'm not sure if FIL has an ereader, but if he does there are a great number of things he might like available through the ManyBooks.net. They even have their own category: Pirate Tales.
posted by Gin and Comics at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2013

Hans Staden's True History: An Account of Cannibal Captivity in Brazil, not exactly a pirate, but a real life 16th century German sailor & mercenary who sailed to South America in search of adventure, was captured by the natives, managed to avoid being eaten by them and escaped back to Europe
posted by Tom-B at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2013

Another real life 16th century sailor and adventurer was Cabeza de Vaca, one of the few conquistadores who respected and tried to understand the native peoples, his accounts are full of exotic adventures, shipwrecks and daring escapes!
posted by Tom-B at 11:31 AM on December 10, 2013

Also Emilio Salgari's Sandokan novels.
posted by sukeban at 12:49 PM on December 10, 2013

Missee Lee, by Arthur Ransome. I loved it when I was a kid -- I loved all the Swallows and Amazons books -- and read it over and over, but it's been decades and I can't promise it isn't racist (I don't remember).
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:36 PM on December 10, 2013

Here is a list of fictional pirates.
posted by bunderful at 2:17 PM on December 10, 2013

A High Wind in Jamaica. This may not be what he's looking for. It's far from light reading; no buckles are swashed. But no roundup of pirate lit is complete without it.
posted by tangerine at 11:38 PM on December 10, 2013

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