The Blank Shot (Review)

The Blank Shot (Review)

’m running slow on my reading these days (this week’s DOG EAR will address that). I’m nowhere near finishing my current book. But on Saturday lunch, I pulled out a favorite book from a favorite author, Rafael Sabatini, a tale from the follow-up collection of short stories detailing the adventure of that most urbane pirate, Captain Blood.

In The Blank Shot, we pick up the thread of our Irish captain’s narrative just after he stole the massive Cinco Llagas in in first book. His crew really still don’t know him and are prone to second-guessing him. And there are only possibly twenty in their number, too small for a ship that size. And this appraisal is shared by Captain Eastering, loud and blunt rogue who eyes Blood’s ship in the harbor of Tortuga and makes his plans.

Spooling off some sort of tale of Henry Morgan and buried treasure in the isthmus of Panama, Eastering promises Blood an elevated share if Blood will bring the Cinco Llagas on this recovery raid. Blood eyes the offer and suspects his fellow captain means to play him false. But his companions are all for it and against his better judgement they row across to Easterling’s ship to have final discussions and sign articles.

Of course, when they arrive, the entire crew (almost two hundred souls) are present. And armed. And smiling. Blood ponders why they aren’t all swilling in the Tortuga taverns. Down in the Easterling’s stateroom, a sloppy dinner is served. Blood and his men are seated separate, no way to support each other. And that’s when Easterling reverses the deal – no bonus for the Cinco Llagas – straight shares only. When Blood declines, Easterling flies into a fit of rage, doing everything he can to provoke Blood to fatal action (and with the Governor’s representative in attendance, this is all he needs to bring forth his plans to kill or imprison Blood in “bad faith”). His men look to him, horrified by this trap they’ve been led by the nose into. But Peter, sly Peter, he uses his wit where others will muscle or steel, to thwart the evil captain’s plan and get them off that dark sloop.

Yeah, and you’ll have to read it to find out just what it was.

I loved this story. In this time of blunt nonsense and bluster, when thuggish behavior and boorish stratagems seem to carry the day, there is always Captain Blood to remind me how dashing and clever the human spirit can be. I’ve always loved Sabatini and you might as well – if you’d like to get your own fix, read the groundbreaking Captain Blood and find out just how cool pirates can truly be.