The Irish-born Peter Blood has served in the Dutch and French navies, spent two years in a Spanish prison, and now enjoys the life of a doctor in southwestern England. Blood is skeptical of the rebellion being raised by the duke of Monmouth against King James II, yet when Jeremiah Pitt begs him to come to the aid of the wounded Lord Gildoy, who has been involved in the rebellion, he accedes. As a result, Blood is arrested for treason along with Pitt and the nobleman whose life he has saved.
Gildoy subsequently buys his freedom, but Blood and Pitt are found guilty by the notorious Lord Jeffreys. Before they can be executed, however, the British secretary of state directs that one thousand of the rebels taken prisoner be transported to the West Indies as slaves. Blood and Pitt are shipped to Bridgetown, on the island of Barbados, where they are bought by the militia’s cruel Colonel Bishop to work on his sugarcane plantation. Bishop discovers, however, that it is more profitable to allow Blood to tend to the ills of the island’s aristocracy. As a result of his status, Blood becomes acquainted with Arabella Bishop, the colonel’s attractive niece.
When the Spanish ship Cinco Llagas attacks Bridgetown, Bishop’s troops are unprepared and are defeated, but the attack provides Blood with an opportunity. While the Spanish are celebrating their victory ashore, Blood, Pitt, and a handful of fellow slaves overpower the ship’s remaining crew. They also take prisoner its captain, Don Diego de Espinosa y Valdez, when he returns and confiscate the ransom that the Spanish have collected. Blood’s men destroy the rest of the Spanish boats with cannon before they can reach the ship, but their greatest pleasure comes when Bishop himself rows out expecting to recover the ransom. Forced to swim ashore as the ship sails away, the enraged colonel becomes Blood’s sworn enemy.
Blood agrees to release Don Diego on the Dutch island of Curaçao, but the wily Spaniard steers them to a Spanish settlement on the island of Hispaniola instead....
(The entire section is 845 words.)