Rafael Sabatini's The Sea-Hawk tells the story of an Elizabethan Englishman who, after being betrayed by his half-brother and sold into slavery, joins the swashbuckling pirates of the Barbary Coast. Historic and melodramatic, this audiobook chucks listeners right into the middle of the action. John Bolen turns in a solid performance. He is not afraid to pause to let the imagery settle, nor to use rapid-fire pacing to bolster action sequences. He particularly hits his stride with his characters' voices, from the high-pitched women to the heavily accented pirates. For fans of good old-fashion melodrama, X marks this spot.
Tessilian converts to Islam and becomes the Barbary Corsair, Sakr-el-Bahr, "Hawk of the Sea." He invades the coast of England on a captured Spanish ship and kidnaps the woman whose love for him had been poisoned by deceit and whose unforgiving repugnance had kept him form returning home. This 1923 best seller, doused with pirates, sea battles, villainy, romance and revenge, is considered one of the great classic swashbucklers of all time.
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I made the huge mistake of buying this audiobook without listening to a sample first. The narrator sounds like George W Bush - comical at first, but after about three chapters I gave up in disgust. His attempts at English accents are truly terrible and somehow the narrator seems to think that all English men have very high pitched voices. His breathy heroine was awful and his mispronunciation of place and personal names was irritating. I can't comment on plot or characters as I never got far enough into the book to form any opinion.
"Fun story ruined by poor reading"
The reader was excruciating. Some mispronounced words were jarring because they were pretty basic. Pacing was weak and the acting was marginal. The reader varies so little in tone that my attention often wandered.
If you can't find a better place to spend your credits, try a test listen first to make sure you don't agree with me.
"A slow start but ultimately gripping"
It started off a little slow, but this story of betrayal and its consequences went on to become sit-in-the-garage gripping. It has greater psychological depth than the typical swashbuckler. The reader was disappointing, using the same voice for very different characters (such as the faithful servant and the duplicitious mercenary). The only superior book I know of in this genre is The Count of Monte Cristo.
Yikes! This book is boring.
I am a huge fan of Sabatini's other two books, Scaramouch and Captain Blood. If you haven't read them already then don't miss out! This book, however, falls short of those two by a mile.
A slow start, a mediocre middle, and a predictable end. That about sums it up. I advise you not to waste your time. Listen to his other two books or else pass on.
Looking for alternate suggestions? Try Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Our Mutual Friend or Nicolas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, The Moonstone or The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, or the Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis. All can be found on this site.
"A Swashbuckler that Sloshes"
If you are a fan of Rafael Sabatini, you will probably enjoy this book. I read it as a young lad and was enthralled.
However, the narrator of this version is probably not the best reader I've ever heard and detracted from the story. Also, the story is supposed to be set in Elizabethan times, but it sounded too much like the 19th century to me. This is probably the fault of Sabatini rather than the narrator, however.
All in all, the plot line is good enough to keep me interested, but a better performance would have made it more enjoyable.
"Great story ruined by a bumbling reader"
This is is a great story. Read it. Listen to another rendition. But don't listed to this narrator mispronounce words, stress the wrong words in sentences, and overall distract the listener from the story rather than enhancing the story. Disappointed.
"Narration painful, story good."
I love Sabatini, and The Sea-Hawk is one of my favorite books.
It is sad, therefore, that the narration made it almost impossible to listen to this book. It sounded as though he disliked the book and was reading as fast as he could to be done with it. The characterization was mediocre.
I only wish I had paid attention to another reviewer, rather than simply purchasing the book because I knew I liked the story. I could have saved myself disappointment and money.
The language,style and contruction of the book was wonderful. The action is certainly less than that of Captain Blood but the essential adventure was present. The narration was not as good however and there was difficulty in charachter transition. Overall if you are a fan of Sabatini it is a great listen. Improve the narration and this would easily be 4 stars
"I've heard fifth graders who could read better."
Great Sabatini story that barely overcame a very poor rendition. Thank goodness Scaramouche and Captain Blood were read by someone else!
WHAT A STORY, very well read. Really a terrific escape. Highly recommended
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