Set in the late 16th century, this pirate tale follows a Cornish sea-faring gentleman, Sir Oliver Tressilian, as he is villainously betrayed by his jealous brother. Forced to serve as a slave on a Spanish galley, Sir Oliver is liberated by Barbary pirates, whom he joins under the name 'Sakr-el-Bahr', the hawk of the sea, and swears vengeance against his brother.
Sir Oliver Tressilian sat at his ease in the lofty dining-room of the handsome house of Penarrow, which he owed to the enterprise of his father of lamented and lamentable memory and to the skill and invention of an Italian engineer named Bagnolo who had come to England half a century ago as one of the assistants of the famous Torrigiani.
This house of such a startlingly singular and Italianate grace for so remote a corner of Cornwall deserves, together with the story of its construction, a word in passing.
The Italian Bagnolo who combined with his salient artistic talents a quarrelsome, volcanic humour had the mischance to kill a man in a brawl in a Southwark tavern. As a result he fled the town, nor paused in his headlong flight from the consequences of that murderous deed until he had all but reached the very ends of England. Under what circumstances he became acquainted with Tressilian the elder I do not know. But certain it is that the meeting was a very timely one for both of them. To the fugitive, Ralph Tressilian--who appears to have been inveterately partial to the company of rascals of all denominations-- afforded shelter; and Bagnolo repaid the service by offering to rebuild the decaying half-timbered house of Penarrow. Having taken the task in hand he went about it with all the enthusiasm of your true artist, and achieved for his protector a residence that was a marvel of grace in that crude age and outlandish district. There arose under the supervision of the gifted engineer, worthy associate of Messer Torrigiani, a noble two-storied mansion of mellow red brick, flooded with light
An immensely enjoyable adventure with shades of Ben Hur meeting Pride and Prejudice, so as to build into a tale of swashbuckling survival on the high seas. The male of the species at his chivalrous and honourable best, only to be thwarted and brought down by the disdain of the female lead, and the bind of an enduring love between the two main characters. Sabatini at times appears to come across in a slightly misogynous manner but this can be forgiven when the era encompassing the story is considered.
Wonderful book. Sabatini was a master in delivering the best adventure stories full of action, honor, betrayal, romance and exotic lands.
Fantastic book. As good as, if not better, than Captain Blood. Don't pass this up, Sabatini does adventure better than anyone!