The Big Book of Swashbuckling Adventure” by Lawrence Ellsworth lives up to its name, and delivers a heaping assortment of derring-do, courageous swordplay, unbridled love, and razor wit, compiled conveniently into one enormous anthology.

swashbuckFlavor is the true treasure to be dug up from these pages. Each story is positively swimming in it. You’ll smell the salty sea air. You’ll feel the hot Caribbean sun tan your face. You’ll work up a sweat fending off saber strikes, and feel your pulse racing while you ride to deliver intelligence that could prevent, or provoke, a bloody war….

By my tastes, most of the stories Ellsworth offers are darling, a few are outstanding, and one or two are merely decent. For the amount of sheer words within this work, however, it’s a steal.

The pirate stories stand out the most, but perhaps that’s due in part to the fact that the two longest selections both happen to be piratical tales.

Awkwardly, the book’s physical size became an issue for me. I do most of my reading in the New York City subway system, and that regularly involves being smashed into a crowded train car. For a two-handed book, as this one is, that meant several trips where extracting my swashbuckling tome was sadly not feasible. If you prefer to ingest your literature digitally, though, or if you tend to read under more forgiving circumstances, then you will avoid such inconvenience.

A great bonus to reading an anthology such as this is that it’s a marvelous way to get introduced to new (at least new to you) and wonderful authors. My two favorites are Rafael Sabatini and Stanley J. Weyman.