Many of you will be a big fan of the pirate life in fiction and if so, you’ve likely read a few fantastic books with pirates in them before. However, there are an awful lot of swashbuckling books out there!
So, you’re going to need to find out what the best ones are available to you. Luckily, I’ve got the top 8 books for pirate lovers right here. Read on and discover your inner pirate!
If you really want to head out on an amazing adventure and sail the seas, then you’ll want to get your hands on these pirate books below!
Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island
You cannot have a list of the best pirate books without including Treasure Island. In fact, this novel is not only one of the best pirate books, but it’s regarded as one of the best books in general literature.
This classic tale binds lots of very memorable characters together, and with excellent pacing and clever writing – Robert Louis Stevenson was able to explore their character arcs in a lot of detail.
Indeed, three of the most famous characters in literature; Jim Hawkins, Israel Hands, and Long John Silver go on a mighty quest for buried treasure – but the book is much more than your traditional adventure novels.
The novel explores the battle between good and evil, how friends can become enemies, and the morality of piracy.
- One of the world’s most famous novels
- Excellent character development
- Suitable for all ages
- May be a little outdated for younger readers
Themes: Adventure, Morality, Good, and evil
John Leonard Pielmeier: Hook’s Tale
When it comes to pirates, one character will always come to mind – and that’s Captain Hook. Many readers will be familiar with Captain Hook from J.M. Barrie’s Adventures Of Peter Pan, but in truth – Barrie took a lot of inspiration from Captain Johnson’s general history.
As a result, we get this reimagining of the classic character but with a lot of classic calls to the original source material, including the infamous crocodile meeting!
However, there’s a lot more in this book than simply a return to the original. With a lot of Pielmeier’s work clearly being influenced by real-life events in history, shown through other historical documents.
One of these is the detail of how pirates were essentially forced into becoming what they are through involuntary naval service, controlled by press gangs.
- Interesting take on a classic character
- A mix of fiction with factual influences
- Great pacing
- Despite the inclusion of Hook, the novel is not like J.M. Barrie’s in terms of the writing
Themes: History, Psychology, and Sadness
Colin Woodard: The Republic Of Pirates
After reading a variety of swashbuckling books on piracy, I can say that it always intrigues me to read books that are grounded in reality. Pulitzer Prize winner Colin Woodard manages to bring extensive research of historical pirates into amazing fiction.
The Republic Of Pirates included very famous names that you’ve likely heard of before. Captain Blackbeard and Charles Vane for example!
Along with plenty of supporting characters that are made up of slave runaways, former sailors, and servants – the book examines how the infamous group cut off trade lines and sacked ships for their own survival!
- Brilliant novel grounded in reality through research
- Real characters
- Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author
- Not the happiest of books to read!
Themes: Society, Opportunities, life, and Fear
Miriam McNamara: The Unbinding Of Mary Reade
You might not think of pirate books as having a strong romantic theme, but Miriam McNamara manages to have a beautiful story of Mary’s infatuation with Anne Bonny – who is already in a relationship with Captain Rackham.
In order to get this far, Mary had to pose as a male pirate for a chance at safety and freedom – but she soon understands that the pirate life is not as simple as she might have thought before.
It truly is a glorious tale that explores gender roles, societal attitudes, and romance, all within the realms of piracy.
- A unique amalgamation of romance and the pirate life
- Excellent character development
- Brilliant pacing throughout the novel
- Might not be for everyone
Themes: Love, relationships, romance, Gender roles, Society and same-sex relationship attitudes
Sam Conniff Allende: Be More Pirate
I have thought about this for a while, and I am hard-pressed to find a pirate book that binds the Golden Age attitude and ideology of piracy to the modern world – but this book by Sam Conniff Allende does just that.
The core principles that you would associate with Golden Age pirates like smashing the status quo and looking out for your own ideals are now taken from the world of lawlessness to the modern era.
If you are looking for a much more contemporary look at the classic world of pirates, then you will absolutely love this book!
- A unique take on modernity and history
- An intriguing look at how piracy might operate in the modern world
- Grounded in reality
- You may argue it is not a classic “pirate book”
Themes: Business, economy, Society, Life and how it operates
David Cordingly: Under The Black Flag
It’s always good to read a novel that has been written by an expert in the genre, and you’ll be pleased to know that David Cordingly is an experienced pirate expert, being a former head of exhibitions at the Maritime Museum in England.
One of the best parts about this book is how David eradicates the classic myths that surround pirates from the Golden Age – like the one you’re most familiar with, walking the plank!
It’s a very informative and expansive novel that brings you into the reality of the Golden Age of pirates, which is something you will find difficult to find elsewhere!
- A real look at pirates
- Breaks away from myths
- Factual rather than fiction might not be what you are looking for
Themes: Reality, Piracy, and History
Charles Johnson: General History Of The Robberies & Murders Of The Most Notorious Pirates
I briefly mentioned this book earlier in this list, but it is a book that absolutely must be read for any pirate lover.
This is a book that was originally published in 1724 and it is filled with information about the Golden Age of pirates, which has since become a very solid source of information for pirate authors and historians alike.
Speaking of historians, this book has been highly debated in terms of its misrepresentation and potential exaggeration – but its historical importance is undeniable.
- Unique opportunity to read about historical characters from the Golden Age
- Excellent chance to explore strong source material for other pirate books
- Accuracy is debated
Themes: Reality, Piracy, and World events
Cassandra Rose Clark: Magic Of Blood And Sea
Finally, on my list, I’ve included a highly adventurous and action-packed book which, unlike many other pirate books, does not follow Golden Age pirates – but it is set in the same era.
It follows the story of Captain Ananna who abandons her ship to set up her own path, only because her parents tried to marry her off to rival pirate clans.
She is sought after by assassins and bounty hunters – who later discover it was a bad idea to try to track this amazing heroine down!
- Strong female character
- Does not incorporate classic Golden Age characters
- Beautiful character development
- Removed from pirate history
Themes: Society, expectations, Defiance, and Adventure
The Bottom Line
Swashbuckling books are some of my favorites, and you will surely enjoy these books as much as I do. I hope I have been able to help you pick your next pirate favorite!
Frequently Asked Questions
Fiction Or Fact: Which Is Better?
It depends on what sort of reading you are looking for. However, factual books are an excellent grounding to use before fiction!
Are These Suitable For Children?
Some are. However, some of these books might be more suitable for adults. It’s a good idea to check the recommendations beforehand.
- Humphrey Book Order - March 24, 2023
- Honor Harrington Book Series - March 24, 2023
- Fallen Book Series In Order - March 24, 2023