Monday, August 08, 2011

Treasure Island

I finished Treasure Island over the weekend. It is amazing how much I'm reading since the lightning storm wiped out my TV a week and a half ago. For those concerned, the new TV arrives Thursday. You may commence being jealous.

Before I get to Treasure Island let me make a follow up to my Dance With Dragons post. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the book. Martin's writing is as good as it has been in any of the previous Ice and Fire books. The story line moves along at a good pace. There are answers to past questions and new questions arise. All in all I loved the book. I'm just pissed about the last 3 chapters in a 1000 page book. And most of that feeling is that I want to read the next book now, not in 5 years. Of course, it is the 5th book in a series and not one you can pick up blindly. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the entire series.

Now, about Treasure Island. (Spoilers, people. Spoilers)

I enjoyed it but it certainly shows itself as a dated (first published in 1883) children's book. It is the coming of age story of Jim Hawkins a boy (young man?) of indeterminate age. The basic story is that Jim Hawkins comes into possession of a treasure map. Along with some village elders he sets off on a journey across the Atlantic on a chartered ship to recover the treasure. The ship’s crew was previously the crew of the pirate whose treasure they seek and they mutiny once they arrive.

There's little in the way of surprises. Almost everything is predictable although that may come from having read it sometime in my childhood. We had a picture book version. Reading the Wikipedia article I see that there are 4 conflicts that the book is thought to address: Truthfulness and Loyalty, Temperance and Drunkenness, Religion and Irreligion, and Thrift and Profligacy.

The one that stuck out to me was the Truthfulness and Loyalty. Young Hawkins on multiple occasions disobeys orders and strikes out on his own. In each case it turns out beneficial to him and the crew that remains loyal to the Captain and the mission. He also learns in the book to keep his word. When he has a chance to escape the pirates after giving his word he wouldn't he chooses to remain a captive. Jim's story line is a long streak of good luck that is a bit unbelievable. I believe accepting this string of luck is a key to enjoying the book.

Jim is contrasted by Long John Silver, the one-legged pirate with a parrot on his shoulder. I believe he is the progenitor of the pirate stereotype. Silver fakes his original allegiance to the mission while stocking the crew with fellow mutineers. Over the course of the book he changes his allegiance multiple times before eventually making off with a sack of loot at the end of the story.

Whereas the story of truthfulness is straight forward the story of loyalty and the consequences is an ambiguous one. Silver despite his shiftiness seems to have profited. The consequences of his actions are left unsaid however.

As I said, it was an enjoyable story but certainly is written for a younger audience.

Next on line is Beautiful Piece by Joseph G. Peterson. It is a Chicago based story. I started it yesterday and a few dozen pages in I think I know what it is going on. I'll be curious to see if I'm correct.



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