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Review: Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

treasure island

A true adventure story by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, in 1883.

robert louis stevenson

“Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!”

A novel of action; and a children’s book also for adults. Children will be – and are – fascinated by the image of pirates and the share the adventure that Jim Hawkins goes on to Treasure Island, aboard the ship the Hispaniola to search for buried treasure.

Today, the language may seem strange to children and they may find it a difficult read. For adults it is an interesting look into the character of people, most especially Long John Silver, who in my book is the ultimate master of self-preservation.

Treasure Island brings to life the now stereotypical view of pirates and its influence on popular perceptions of pirates is huge. It is an adventure tale of pirates, buried treasure and peril that most young boys would crave, where pirates were brought to life, in the commonly perceived notion that they are today by Stevenson in his novel, with (now) stereotypical pirate speech, with a parrot on the shoulder, one legged, gnarly faces with plenty of rum flowing.

“Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

Hawkins is a plucky young lad, away from the cares of his mother, eager for new experiences and the chance of adventure, and the opportunity is given to him by the bombastic, ill-tempered, quarrelsome but ultimately harmless Squire, and his cool natured, sensible companion the Doctor, each in their own way drawn by the mystery of the map and the lure of buried treasure.

It’s one of those books that at some point in your reading life you should read – if you haven’t already, not only because it’s a iconic read in our history and culture, but because it is a crackingly good read.

That was Flint’s treasure that we had come so far to seek, and that had cost already the lives of seventeen men from the Hispaniola. How many it had cost in the ammassing, what blood and sorrow, what good ships scuttled on the deep, what brave men walking the plank blindfold, what shot of cannon, what shame and lies and cruelty, perhaps no man alive could tell.”


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