Under the Black Ensign
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Under the Black Ensign

4.0 40
by L. Ron Hubbard
     
 

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Long before Captain Jack Sparrow raised hell with the Pirates of the Caribbean, Tom Bristol sailed to hell and back Under the Black Ensign. That’s where the real adventure begins.

Bristol’s had plenty of bad luck in his life. Press-ganged into serving aboard a British vessel, he’s felt the cruel

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Overview

Long before Captain Jack Sparrow raised hell with the Pirates of the Caribbean, Tom Bristol sailed to hell and back Under the Black Ensign. That’s where the real adventure begins.

Bristol’s had plenty of bad luck in his life. Press-ganged into serving aboard a British vessel, he’s felt the cruel captain’s lash on his back. Then, freed from his servitude by pirates, his good fortune immediately takes a bad turn . . . as the pirates accuse him of murder—and leave him to die on a deserted island. Now all he has left are a few drops of water, a gun, and just enough bullets to put himself out of his misery.

But Bristol’s luck is about to change. Finding himself in the unexpected company of a fiery woman and a crafty crew, he unsheathes his sword, raises a pirate flag of his own, and sets off to make love and war on the open seas.

In his early twenties, Hubbard led the two-and-a-half-month, five-thousand-mile Caribbean Motion Picture Expedition. He followed that with the West Indies Mineralogical Expedition near San Juan, Puerto Rico, in which he completed the island’s first mineralogical survey as an American territory. It was during these two journeys that Hubbard became an expert on the Caribbean’s colorful history—an expertise he drew on to write stories like Under the Black Ensign.

 “A riveting tale of sailing ships, piracy and the high seas.” —Midwest Book Review

* A National Indie Excellence Award Winner

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Errol Flynn would feel quite at home in Hubbard's ripping yarn of Caribbean piracy in the year 1680, first published in 1935. Press-ganged into the Royal Navy, Tom Bristol faces 100 lashes just as buccaneers attack the British man-o'-war on which he reluctantly serves. Tom soon realizes the pirate life is for him, a life replete with swordplay, maroonings and naval battles with ships lost in the roiling fog of cannon smoke. Supplementing the illustrated text are an extensive glossary of nautical and period terms, an essay entitled "L. Ron Hubbard and American Pulp Fiction," and a foreword by Kevin J. Anderson on the golden age of pulp fiction. The man who would go on to found Scientology never achieves the visceral intensity of such fellow pulp writers as Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan, but he conducts his minisaga in just the fashion readers of the era expected. (Sept.)

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Midwest Book Review
Also very highly recommended in this outstanding series is L. Ron Hubbard's Under the Black Ensign, a riveting tale of sailing ships, piracy and the high seas.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
This fast-moving adventure story will appeal to boys of all ages, beginning at about age 7. The hero, Bristol, is a young sailor (first mate of the bark Randolph) who has been "pressed" into service in the Royal Navy. It is a very difficult life, and Bristol finds himself in trouble with Sir Charles Stukely, Lord High Governor of Nevis, who orders Bristol flogged for something he really didn't do. Everything is prepared, but just before the whip can be raised the ship is attacked and taken over by pirates. When Bristol is faced with either being abandoned or signing on with the pirates he signs on happily. Life with the pirates is much better than navy life; the food is no better, but at least there is not quite as much brutality toward the sailors. Now that the pirates have two ships, Bristol is on one as a skilled navigator. But when Ricardo, the "captain" of this ship, proposes mutiny against Bryce, the pirate captain, Bristol ends up killing him. The penalty for fighting aboard is either death or marooning. Somehow Bristol also has discovered that the charming young midshipman on board is actually a woman who was picked up by the pirates on her way to Nevis—to marry Sir Charles Stukely! This is a fun read; the adventure begins on page 1 and doesn't end till page 85. It was originally written in 1936, a pulp novel (so-called from the quality of the paper on which was printed), and has traveled the years very well. Recommended. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
Library Journal

Hubbard wrote a ton of pulp stories in every genre during the 1930s and 1940s. Galaxy is reissuing all of them in paperback-80 books in all (told you it was a ton). Each book features a killer pulp cover along with other illustrations, a glossary (parts of a ship for the briny swashbucklers, etc.), and background on the author.


—Michael Rogers
From the Publisher

“Also very highly recommended in this outstanding series is L. Ron Hubbard’s Under the Black Ensign, a riveting tale of sailing ships, piracy and the high seas.” — Midwest Book Review

“Hubbard wrote a ton of pulp stories in every genre during the 1930s and 1940s. Galaxy is reissuing all of them in paperback – 80 books in all (told you it was a ton). Each book features a killer pulp cover along with other illustrations, a glossary and background on the author.” —Library Journal

 

“Errol Flynn would feel quite at home in Hubbard’s ripping yarn… replete with swordplay, marooning and naval battles with ships lost in the roiling fog of cannon smoke. Supplementing the illustrated text are an extensive glossary of nautical and period terms.” —Publishers Weekly

“This is a gem in American pulp fiction…” —Audiofile 

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781592123391
Publisher:
Galaxy Press, LLC
Publication date:
09/08/2008
Series:
Stories from the Golden Age
Pages:
121
Product dimensions:
5.44(w) x 10.88(h) x 0.49(d)
Lexile:
800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The time-honored cry of the sea floated down to them from the foretop. “Sail ho!” All eyes went aloft. The lash was momentarily forgotten. The sail must be very close, otherwise it would not have been announced.

“Where away?” shouted Mannville.

“Off the starboard, coming across our bows!”

Men leaped to the rail. The haze of light cast up by the sun on water momentarily blinded them. And then they saw the ship. It was sailing against the morning sun, full-rigged, tall-masted, gilded sterncastle sparkling. It was a bark of about sixty guns. Against the light, its sails looked black.

Even as they stared at it, a roll of bunting went up the truck and burst. Its identity was unmistakable. A grinning skull against an ebon field.                

L. Ron Hubbard

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Meet the Author

As one of the 20 top bestselling authors of all time, with more than 325 million works in circulation, L. Ron Hubbard stands alongside an illustrious company of writers. But he also stands alone—as an author who actually lived many of the stories he wrote.

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Under the Black Ensign 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great!!! I enjoyed every minute of it - from the first page to the last! This is about a gentleman and pilot shanghaied in London on a ship as a lowly sailor and how this shift from this point. This is one of the most entertaining books I've read this year!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Under the Black Ensign was one of those really great swashbuckling, action packed, good versus evil type stories. I listened to it on CD and I could feel the warmth my parents have told me of the old radio days. I can't wait to listen to my next Hubbard pulp fiction!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was actually incredible. Not only was it action packed, it was also moral and educational! It also gave me a new view of the pirate. I found myself wanting to listen to the story again and again and again. I felt like I was right there in the story. The book is fantastic too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great swashbuckling adventure! Tom Bristol is a great character and I really like the old-time feel of the story from the pulp days.
If you like pirates, adventure on the high-seas, give this one a try!
Jasonjwillis More than 1 year ago
This one hits the water sailing (instead of ground running) and just picks up speed from there. Pure classic pulp in its finest tradition. It is no wonder why people couldn't get enough and after all this time they still can't. If you want a serious, somber, literary read avoid this like the plauge. But if what you want is fun, unabashed adventure, buy it, read it, love it. The production quality of these audio books are absolutely unparalled.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Short Story 91 pages, but fun to read an old pulp fiction style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was surprised by this. I had never read any of his and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Not great literature, but I didn't stop reading!
yangyang More than 1 year ago
Glad that I was able to get this for free. I enjoy pulp fiction very much and L. Ron Hubbard is one of the greatest.
qubit More than 1 year ago
This was what one would expect from pulp- short and sweet. No character development, little in the way of plot. Just straight to the point pirate action. A decent read for the most part, but not something I would recommend for anything other than a way to waste an hour or so. The action scenes were plenty, but short and incredibly weak. Hubbard obviously had trouble describing fights; whether swordfights or naval battles, they were very generic and non-descriptive, and did not give the adrenaline surge of a well- written action novel. What's more, there was absolutely no romance, though an attempt at a romantic element was obviously made. All in all a very weak and unimaginitive story, but still good enough to read once while waiting for a bus or killing some time before bed. After all, a swashbuckler is a swashbuckler, even if poorly written it's still worthy of a read, in my opinion. Could have beeen much better though. I guess Hubbard saved all his imagination for the hokey "religion" he invented...
DeniseDQ More than 1 year ago
The most exciting book! Will keep you glued to the book until it is finished and then you will want more. Great for kids and adults alike. A must read if you like adventure.
Sir_Readalot More than 1 year ago
I had a LOT of fun reading this and it is written so well it totally immerses one into the story, even though in another time period! You will feel transported! There are even very fun online "interview" spoofs with the main character at www.elbowsonthetable.com ! It is hillarious.
Gordon2009 More than 1 year ago
Under the Black Ensign pulls you into the action and doesn't let up. Great authenticity and background color accurately told with a compelling plot. A great read for the pure enjoyment of a classic pulp tale and an education as well with a complete glossary of pirate and ship terminology. I found this story especially appealing to my younger friends with a good moral adding to the excitement. I also appreciated the excellent quality of the production with a stain resistant cover and authentic pulp feel to the pages. This is one you want to add to your collection or share with friends.
dedaDL More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of suspense and action short stories L. Ron Hubbard is a author you should check out. His stories are full of action and suspense. Interesting easy reads and perfect audio books for your car. I enjoy listening while I drive. Listening to L. Ron Hubbard's books on audio makes long trips much shorter.
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
If you’re a fan of swashbuckling adventures and pirates on the high seas UNDER THE BLACK ENSIGN is the perfect story for you. The audio version of the book by L. Ron Hubbard features a multicast performance that brings the story to life. There’s also music and sound effects to enhance the adventure. Narrators Marisol Nichols, R.E. Daley, Jim Meskimen, Phil Proctor, Thomas Silcott, and Michael Yurchak do an excellent job portraying the various characters. First mate Tom Bristol finds himself press-ganged into service aboard the British HMS Terror. An accident soon has Tom facing 200 lashes but is saved at the last minute when a pirate ship overtakes them. Tom decides his best hope is to join the pirates. Another bad misfortune has Tom marooned on an island when he’s accused of killing a mutinous pirate and harboring a woman on board. With the help of the woman, Tom devises a plan that returns him to the sea where he has plans for those who have wronged him. This two-hour audio packs a lot of adventure and suspense in a short period of time. The pace is quick in this action-packed tale. Life on the high seas during the 1680s comes to life through the author’s vivid descriptions. Readers of the book will find numerous black and white illustrations throughout depicting various scenes. A glossary is also included to help readers better understand the speech of the time. In true pulp fiction style, UNDER THE BLACK ENSIGN will entertain and transform you to an era of yesteryear. FTC Full Disclosure – A print and audio copy of this book were sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
ddaniel28 More than 1 year ago
Tom Bristol is a press-ganged sailor aboard a British naval ship in the Caribbean. An innocent mistake results in his being condemned to a flogging that will surely result in his death. When a pirate vessel interrupts his flogging and captures the British ship, Tom gladly joins the pirate band—and who could blame him? This story progresses rapidly and the fates of our Douglas-Fairbanks-like hero and surprisingly adventurous heroin are wrapped up quickly and tied in a bow at the end when the plot makes a sudden and not very believable 180 degree turn. It is all quite fun and not worthy of a serious pondering, though I was pleasantly surprised when Tom rescues the starving captives aboard a slave ship and puts them all "on the account" to become his pirate crew. It's a fun swashbuckling story with little depth of characterization, typical of other stories with a 1930's adventure magazine origin. Authors made a penny a word and wrote fast. Their chosen genre was often anything the magazines were looking for. Hubbard wrote sea stories, detective stories, westerns, science fiction--basically, adventure stories far-flung in place and time. This audiobook has a full cast, music and sound effects. It’s a good production. The voice work is a little over-the-top at times, but that fits the story "Under the Black Ensign" was first published in the August 1935 issue of Five Novels Monthly magazine under L. Ron Hubbard's own name (as opposed to one of his 15 pen names). Because it is a novelette of only eight chapters, the audiobook, though unabridged, is a 2-disk set. It comes with the booklet "L. Ron Hubbard in the Golden Age of Pulp Fiction", which incorporates both the "Foreword" and "About the Author" sections found in the paperback and eBook versions of this book. My review copy also came with a booklet by Hubbard titled, "Yesterday, You Might Have Been a Pirate", which includes a useful glossary for those unfamiliar with terms like "chain shot" and "press gang".
Amaranthae More than 1 year ago
This is one of a number of books that appear in the Golden Age series. For those of you who may be worried that the book may contain references to scientology or dianetics, for which this Author appears to be well-known, you need not worry. At no point in my reading of this did I find any references to either of these. If you are a reader that is looking for a no frills, straight to the action kind of book, this one will be right up your alley. Like most books written in this era and classified as pulp fiction, there is no thought at all given to any character development, and when every page is packed with action and adventure, why waste time with all the frills and fancy that developing a back story brings with it. As with most of this Authors Golden Age books, the characters portrayed within its pages are not the usual stereotypical fodder one would except from this kind of book; instead they are more archetypical which makes the book more palatable for the reader. At only 121 pages, this little novella is full of pirates, adventure, mishap, exploits and did I mention pirates? Every kind of piratical adventure imaginable is packed into these pages, and the reader can find themselves turning the last page before they realise it. It’s a high-octane and great uncomplicated read for all ages, especially children who are caught up in the pirate craze, and adults looking for some good old-fashioned escapism. I also feel this book would be suitable as bedtime reading to your children and grandchildren, and would definitely read it to mine. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and will definitely be hunting down some more of the Golden Age books for those nasty winter afternoons that lay ahead. I highly recommend you do the same.
lifeasleels More than 1 year ago
I enjoy taking a break from my other book review reads and reading the pulp fiction of L. Ron Hubbard. The books are an easy read that typically only take me a few hours to read, but take me to a different place altogether. Under the Black Ensign made me giggle as I found myself reading much of the book in pirate talk. The joy of this quick, easy read is that it has the suspense, action and romance all wrapped into one short story without it taking me forever to get to the point and spending days reading it. This was a fun read set on the sea with royalty and buccaneers. A fun escape from the real world when you have a few extra moments here and there!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With today being International Talk Like A Pirate Day, what better time to review Under The Black Ensign by L. Ron Hubbard. Written in the 1930s as part of Hubbard's Stories From The Golden Age series, Under The Black Ensign is a fantastic book about pirates, sword fights, chivalry, high adventure and action! Presented in audio form (the version I enjoyed), the story is presented on two CDs with approximate running time of 2 hrs. The cover art is bright and exciting, and comes with a detailed booklet highlighting Hubbard’s life and role in American Pulp Fiction. The audio presentation itself is top notch. The slapping of waves on the beach, the clash of sword striking sword, the myriad readers portraying characters is a nice touch. The colorful dramatization helped immerse me in the story. With a Lexile score of 800, this book is well-suited for anyone Grade 5 and up. I can just imagine an adventuresome young man of 13 listening to this with rapt attention. Heck, I’m 35 and I found myself longing to feel the sea breeze in my hair. As far as plot is concerned, there were enough twists and battle scenes to keep me interested. It seemed that the valleys were far fewer than the peaks in this swashbuckling tale. I don’t want to give much away, but Tom Bristol, former seaman in the British Navy, is accused of murder, caught up in conspiracy, stranded on a deserted island, and forced to raise his own pirate flag in order to fight for love and honor. Some facets of the plot would seem derivative, had it been written in 2013, but for the 1930s (the heyday of Pulp), this was great stuff. It’s been copied lots of times by the likes of Errol Flynn, and even Johnny Depp, as Captain Jack Sparrow. If you liked Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll love Under The Black Ensign.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, doesn't bog down with what kind of flowers were growing on the hill as they stormed the...... Very fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
woody1 More than 1 year ago
"Under the Black Ensign" is a pirate adventure story with exciting action that transports the reader to a faraway place and time. It's theme is the hero's journey. In the "Power of the Myth", the mythologist Joseph Campbell tells journalist Bill Moyers: "The courage to face trials and to bring a whole body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience...that is the hero's deed." There are two kinds of deeds- physical and spiritual. In "Under the Black Ensign," Tom Bristol undertakes physical deeds and performs courageous acts in battle and saves lives. This heroic tale begins as Tom Bristol's stint as first mate comes to an unexpected end during shore leave when he is press-ganged into serving aboard the British HMS Terror. As a crew member, he is treated ruthlessly, and when the ship is attacked by pirates, he readily joins them. The pirates abandon him when he is convicted of killing an insurgent and hiding a woman on board resulting in Bristol being marooned on an island with little water and a gun. His trials and victories of adventurous initiation continue before he completes his journey, returns, and is reintegrated into society. According to Campbell, there are three phases of the hero's journey: 1) Departure- call to adventure, leaves ordinary life of own accord or is plunged into adventure by unforeseen events. 2) Initiation- tests, trials, ordeals, or revelations- one must undergo to begin transformation. 3) Return- for a human hero it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual or be a founder of something- religion, a city, or a new way of life. It makes the story more interesting to consider the parallels between Bristol's quest and Campbell's take on the hero's journey.
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