by Tim Severin
Format: Paperback, 346 pages
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
I was familiar with the non-fiction works of Tim Severin and I find his retracing travels interesting, but “Corsair” is my first encounter with his fiction.
Hector Lynch, a young man from an Irish father and a Spanish mother, is taken into slavery when his village is attacked by pirates. He is sold in Algiers and here he befriends a Miskito Indian, Dan. Together they try to find a way out from slavery and also they try to find Hector’s sister, Elizabeth, who was taken in the same raid as her brother.
Tim Severin creates an interesting story and a captivating adventure. Throughout the pages of the novel you can see the author’s love for history and his vast experience in sailing. The author treats the maritime aspects with care, properly detailing it, but not going too deep in those details and becoming boring for those unfamiliar with sailing terms. The action of the novel being set in the 17th century I could only guess the amount of time spent in research by the author in the descriptions he used. Combining his sailing experience with his researches Tim Severin creates wonderful descriptions, detailing clothes, cities, ships and customs in the way that made me see and feel those times in history. His historical fiction, “Corsair”, seems realistic because of his care for details and his descriptions.
The novel being an adventure is full of action and I could find many high paced moments. But, unfortunately, sometimes the action is slowing down and touching an almost lethargic point. Fortunately, these moments are balanced with those of action and also they are compensated by the descriptions of the new places. So even though the action slowed down I enjoyed the descriptions of the new places encountered and the information I could find there. And the novel doesn’t lack this information with his help I learned some new things that I didn’t know before.
The characters are interesting. Hector Lynch is a nice guy and I was sympathetic with his cause. He is educated, charismatic and very lucky. Sometimes he seems too lucky, but if he were not we wouldn’t have had his adventures (and I’ve met some incredible lucky people in life too). I would have liked to see more of the psychological aspects of the character. His emotions and his fears are touched only on the surface level, I read about them only on some occasions. The other characters are a little underdeveloped, some of them with interesting background, some with glimpse of their past and some with attractive personalities, but I think that they could be farther developed.
Overall I found Tim Severin’s “Corsair” an entertaining read, one that satisfied my old attraction for sea and sea heroes which I developed in other works like Jules Verne’s “A Captain at Fifteen”, Daniel Defoe’s “Captain Singleton” and Rafael Sabatini’s “Captain Blood”.