Here are relevant references from the Books where a Corsair (the person, not the ship) is mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
"How came you here?" I asked.
"I was taken in my village," she said, "by raiding corsairs from Port Kar, and later sold south."
She was from Asperiche originally, had been taken by corsairs of Port Kar, and sold south.
She had slender ankles, and nicely turned calves. It was clear why the corsairs had not left her behind in her village square, naked and bound, contemptuously rejected.
"It will then be time to affix the blindfold and place the board," said Lord Yamada.
"It is like the joke at sea, common amongst marauders and corsairs," said one of the officers to another, "where one amusingly disposes of unwanted prisoners."
I had heard of this, on more than one world, and in more than one region of more than one world.
Following the coming onto Port Kar of a Home Stone, the Council of Captains had forbade this practice to its captains.
There were, of course, other ports, even outlaw ports harboring the "sleen of the sea," renegade captains, "free corsairs," independent marauders, and such. Much of Thassa lay outside the laws of Brundisium, the range of the mercantile ports, the waters of Port Kar.
"Surely we must then attempt to outrun the other ship," I said. "We have oarsmen, and a sail. The other ship, if it has a mast and sail, it has not yet raised them. We can thus gain time. I do not understand why the captain has not yet committed the oarsmen. Too, I do not understand why there is so little fear on board. Surely pirates, corsairs, are dangerous."
"Those men are corsairs," he said, "killers."
The raid which had wrought this destruction was untypical of the work of common corsairs, pirates, and thieves.
"Our poor vessel, the Doris," said the first, "was beset by pirates, two days ago, by the dreaded corsair, the merciless Bosk of Port Kar, rogue of Thassa!"
"Ctesippus and Laios, as you doubtless know, are involved with the corsairs," he said. "That became clear with the evacuation of the corsairs from their debacle on Daphna, that of The Village of Flowing Gold."
"Many would not have noted the connection," I said.
"I did," he said.
"Interesting," I said.
"Perhaps you should not have taken me aboard," he said.
"If I were unwilling for you to know certain things," I said, "you would not be with us. I feared to explain all at first as I was not sure of you, of you and paga."
"You are not the corsairs," he said, "nor are you enleagued with them."
"True," I said.
"You would foil them and destroy them," he said.
"Perhaps," I said.
"Thus I thought you would be interested to learn of the presence of Ctesippus and Laios at the fair," he said.
"I am interested," I said.
"I have learned more of interest," he said.
"Speak," I said.
"Seven ships, warships, each a fifty-oared ship, have come to the harbor of Mytilene," he said.
"Vessels of the Fleet of the Farther Islands?" I said.
"No," he said. "Ships out of Telnus on Cos."
This was dire news indeed. I had no doubt these were replacement vessels for the corsair ships I had burned on Daphna. The destroyed corsair fleet had possessed four ships of fifty-oars and two of thirty-oars. Now there were seven enemy ships, each of fifty-oars, a far more formidable fleet than the one we had managed to destroy by trickery. Moreover, if the ships were out of Telnus, the greatest of the harbors on Cos, it seemed clear that Lurius of Jad himself, the Ubar of Cos, had invested resources in replacing the corsair fleet. It seemed incredible that he would attend to such seemingly trivial matters as abetting corsairs afflicting the Farther Islands. There must be a great deal more in this, I supposed, than was apparent, at least to me. Why would Lurius interest himself in such unimportant, distant matters? The winnings of the corsair fleet, with its plundering of small villages, and the sacking and sinking of an occasional merchantman, could bring no more than tarsk-bits, so to speak, into the treasury of Cos.
"I fear," I said, "the corsair fleet, and a more formidable one this time, is now at Mytilene."
Some catapult masters have an almost uncanny sense of a prey's next move, but I trusted that the corsairs, being the hired brigands they were, would not be likely to have the services of a seasoned, skillful catapult master at their disposal.
"But you did not count on a catapult," he said.
"Not on a corsair ship," I said.
"Perhaps it was not a corsair ship," he said.
"It was a ship of corsairs," I said, "even if it was not a corsair ship." I thought of Nicomachos. "It did not attempt to contact us. There was no hailing, no signaling, no flags, no horns. It did not identify itself or demand that we identify ourselves."
"It seems likely," I said, "that the three free women who own or manage this place, the 'Three Ubaras', as they will have it, are in league with the corsairs. Too, our men posted in Sybaris report that Archelaos, the implicated governor of Thera, is a frequent guest not only of Glaukos, in the tavern of The Living Island, but of our 'Three Ubaras'."
"He might easily pose as a patron of either establishment," said Clitus.
"What we need," said Thurnock, "is some clue as to where the corsairs will strike next, that we might intervene, or, at least, alert the potential victims."
"Another ruse, like that of The Village of Flowing Gold," said Clitus, "seems impractical."
"I fear so," I said.
"How naive we were," said Thurnock, "thinking that the victory was ours."
"Not really," said Clitus. "We had every right to suppose that the victory was ours. We had burned the corsair fleet and left the corsairs themselves to perish, stranded in what may well be Daphna's most inhospitable region."
"We did not anticipate," said Thurnock, "that the corsairs would be somehow evacuated, nor that their destroyed fleet would be replaced by one even more formidable."
"Consider the expense," said Clitus.
"Why should Cos support corsairs who ravage the Farther Islands, from which tax revenues are derived?" asked Clitus.
"It is odd," I said. "But in the large picture, there is little damage and small loss. Only villages and ships at sea are preyed upon."
"By Bosk of Port Kar," said Thurnock.
"So it seems," I said.
"It is still unclear to me how the corsairs could have been evacuated from Daphna," said Thurnock.
"Happenstance," said Clitus, "a passing fleet."
"Or a single living island controlled by corsairs," I said, "a single living island reacting to the arrival of dozens of message vulos, message vulos surprisingly returning messageless to their cot, a single living island much as that we saw at sea, in departing from Daphna."
A small contingent of the corsairs, some ten men, was advancing before the larger column, consisting, we supposed, of some eight hundred men. The column, extending far behind, was separated by some two hundred yards from the advance group. This small advance group, I supposed, was intended to constitute something in the nature of a scouting or reconnoitering party. It stayed on the road. This suggested that there were few, if any, of the scarlet caste amongst the corsairs. Had there been I would have expected a point with flankers to the side, proceeding through the grass, each of whom would be in contact, by sound or visual signal, with the column itself. Perhaps, however, the corsairs, puzzled as they might have been by the lack of contact with the village raiders, now pinned within the palisade of the burned village, did not believe anything might be seriously amiss.
"Surely the leader of the corsairs, or one of their high leaders," said Aktis, "is the false Bosk of Port Kar."
"I do not think so," I said.
"He is a figurehead," said Clitus, "a buffoon, possibly even an actor, one whom they tell to lead, or pretend to lead, one expendable and easily replaceable."
"Our spies in Sybaris," said Sakim, "report widescale defection amongst the corsairs. Many have fled Thera. Panic is rampant. It seems village raids have been discontinued. Rumors abound. Tales of a merciless Peasant army, one spread amongst the islands, circulate in the taverns. Recruitment of pirates, save for crews, lags, or is nonexistent. Brigands do not seek to pit themselves against insurmountable odds. Brigands look for loot, not death."
I recalled the likelihood that, long ago, one such island had transmitted our position to the corsairs.
"To what effect?" I asked.
"Much effect," he said. "The cooperation of such islands with the corsairs, surely enemies, had always been founded on fear, that if they refused to cooperate, their villages would be destroyed. They are now muchly freed of that fear. Currently corsairs are reluctant to strike villages, and, soon, even should they lose their apprehension of a lurking Peasant army, they would, with the likelihood of only modest loot, be likely to face warned, dangerous fighters, recruited perhaps from several adjacent villages. That is a prospect unappealing to corsairs."
"One living island," he said, "is not associated with a village. It is possessed by, and manned by, brigands, villains clearly imbanded with corsairs. It was that island which evacuated the corsairs stranded on Daphna, after the quest for The Village of Flowing Gold."