Pirates have bewitched popular culture for centuries. Their rebellious spirit and endless adventures, often in pursuit of untold treasures, have created myths and legends, heroes and monsters. Even though they were feared and ruthless, their swashbuckling antics were perfect for fictional adventures. From the very first tale of Long John Silver to the ever-popular Captain Jack Sparrow, pirates continue to entertain and delight in all forms of fiction. If you’re looking to set sail, here are nine of our favorite pirates in fantasy fiction.
Our Favorite Fantastic Pirates
The Pirate: Edward Teach
Few pirates live in infamy like Blackbeard. He was one of the most-feared pirates to sail the seas, so when a being known as Diablero reanimates the bones of Edward Teach, only evil can follow. As Diablero leaves a trail of headless corpses in its wake, it’s up to small-town reporter Hunter Singleton and his estranged wife, park ranger Lisa Singleton, to stop him—before he opens the gates of Hell and unleashes unspeakable horrors upon the world.
The Princess Bride
The Pirate: The Dread Pirate Roberts
Many men bore the name before Westley, but in The Princess Bride, it was his earnest love for Buttercup that saved his life and earned him the moniker. The fearsome reputation comes in handy for more than pillaging and plundering, though. It helps him save Buttercup from being kidnapped, and though we adore Westley, we can’t help but love the man who takes his place in the end, keeping the Dread Pirate Roberts as one of our all-time favorites.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi
The Pirate: Amina al-Sirafi
As one of the most notorious pirates in the Indian Ocean, Amina al-Sirafi should be happy. Her reputation is notorious, her exploits beyond scandalous, and she finally has something to keep her on land. But, for a pirate, that’s never enough. So when she’s offered the chance for one last job, one that will take care of her and her family forever, she has to take it. While it’s obvious she should have stayed home, her adventures are a swashbuckling delight you won’t want to miss.
The Sin in the Steel
The Pirate: Sambucina “Buc” Alhurra
Take Sherlock Holmes and Jack Sparrow and mash them into a seventeen-year-old girl. That’s Buc. She’s brilliant and observant, with a penchant for mayhem. Oh, and she loves her knives. Her partner in crime is Eld, though they solve them far more than they commit them. And now they have the biggest job yet. But as Buc battles wits with a pirate Queen, the gods plot. Too bad for them, because Buc has plans of her own.
The Fragile Threads of Power
The Pirate: Delila Bard
Before she knew about the other Londons, Delilah Bard dreamed of being a pirate. Now, she finally is one. The profession makes sense for her. She longs for adventure, will never say no to a fight, and even though she can wield magic, she never goes anywhere without multiple blades strapped to her person. She’s fiercely ambitious and ferociously determined. When Delilah Bard sets her mind to something, it doesn’t matter if it’s magic or love—she’s going to win. It’s what makes her a ton of fun to read, and we are so excited that she’s back.
On Stranger Tides
The Pirate: Jack Shandy
John Chandagnac never meant to be a pirate. But when pirates seize his ship and he wounds the captain, that’s exactly what happens. Now, he is known as Jack Shandy. But when the woman he loves is taken captive and is being going to be sacrificed, Shandy embraces piracy and sorcery in equal measure in order to save her. With plenty of sea skirmishes, animated skeletons, and barrels of rum, On Stranger Tides (which became the inspiration for the Pirates of the Caribbean film) is the swashbuckling adventure that shines in pirate fiction.
The Pirate: Captain Johannes Alberic/Captain Shakespeare
Admittedly, Captain Shakespeare has a more memorable appearance in the Stardust movie than in the book, but the way he helps Tristan and Yvaine shines through in both. He makes sure Yvaine’s leg is healed and acts as a mentor to Tristan, giving them the time and resources they need to make it to Wall. Let’s not forget that his ship flies through the clouds. He’s not just a pirate—he’s a pirate with flair.
The Dragon Republic
The Pirate: Pirate Queen Moag
The Pirate Queen is careful and calculated. You have to be to control an armada big enough to be a floating city. And knowing that she is based on an actual Pirate Queen simply makes her story all the better. It takes skill to rise from prostitute to Queen, wielding control of more ships than most countries' navies. For Rin, she makes a formidable opponent and a valuable ally. When you’re trying to take down an Empire, you need all the weapons you can get your hands on. Even untrustworthy pirates.
The Pirate: Captain Charles Hunter
If you’re looking for a pirate story steeped in actual maritime records, Pirate Latitudes is a guaranteed win. Captain Hunter is a privateer hired to raid a Spanish galleon to plunder its treasure. Working for the governor of Jamaica, Hunter straddles the line between lawful and outright thievery. But even among pirates there are codes. And while he may succeed in taking the ship, surviving afterwards will take all his skills and a fair amount of swordsmanship to boot.
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