Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
The story is, at its heart, very straightforward. A treasure map is discovered. A ship is acquired and a crew assembled to find the island depicted. The crew, it turns out, largely consists of seasoned pirates. Naturally, they mutiny, wanting the booty just for themselves. The account is narrated mostly by Jim Hawkins, a twelve-year-old boy caught up in the adventure. Standard pre-pubescent boyhood fantasy - it could happen!
This is, in fact, my second recent Robert Louis Stevenson novel. In August, I read Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (reflection here). My gripe with that book was a lack of compelling characters - once you get past the whole transformation thing, that is. Treasure Island, on the other hand, has one highly fascinating character, indeed: Long John Silver.
Silver is a prototype in his own right for the morally ambiguous antagonist. He is indispensable ally at the beginning of the journey only to turn ruthless, greedy murderer. Regardless of his place on the ethical spectrum, the story was always most interesting when he was involved. I missed him whenever the narrative shifted focus to other characters. I didn't care nearly as much about Jim or his supposed good guy friends.
Largely because of Silver, I preferred Treasure Island to Jeckyll and Hyde. The text is richly detailed, especially in regards to setting - Stevenson's wheelhouse. My nautical vocabulary is quite lacking so the description of the sea voyage was not as meaningful as it might have been. As with Jeckyll and Hyde, I am glad to have read it for my own cultural literacy and will henceforth keep an eye out for Stevenson inventions in other pirate tales.