Ahoy mates and landlubbers alike! I bring you tidings of a new
pirating adventure about the legendary Long John Silver.
Fans of Robert Louis Stevenson’s beloved classic TREASURE
ISLAND were enthralled by the gripping tales of piracy on the high
seas. But they were also left with a number of questions, such as:
Just how did Long John Silver lose his leg? And where did his
parrot come from?
John Drake, himself a fan of TREASURE ISLAND, seeks to answer
these and many other questions in FLINT AND SILVER. This is the
first book in a series of prequels detailing the lives and
adventures of the main characters from the original tale, including
Flint, Silver, Billy Bones and Selena.
Drake begins the novel in 1745, several years before the opening
line of TREASURE ISLAND. He takes us aboard the Ria de
Ponteverde, a merchant ship off the coast of Madagascar, which
is attacked by Victory, a pirate ship led by Captain
England. Long John Silver is aboard the Ria de Ponteverde,
fighting with its crew. They are defeated soundly, and Silver is
the last man standing. Captain England gives him a choice: join the
crew of the Victory as a “gentleman o’
fortune,” or die. Obviously, Silver chooses the former.
Meanwhile, Joseph Flint is afloat in the Caribbean aboard the
HMS Elizabeth. The ship is captained by Springer, with
Flint serving as a first officer. Flint and Silver meet up when the
Elizabeth attacks the Walrus, a ship with Silver
aboard. Captain England is killed in the battle, and Silver joins
Flint’s crew. Thus, the two are brought together. But
that’s just the real beginning of the story.
The writing style of FLINT AND SILVER is delightful and holds
true to the original. My only criticism is that for the first 23
chapters (out of 52), Drake flits around from date to date, going
forwards and backwards in time and in odd sequence from chapter to
chapter, making it difficult for this tired old brain to keep up
with the storyline. I was much relieved to discover that the action
is all in chronological order from Chapter 24 to the end of the
As mentioned, this is the first in a series of prequels to the
original story. According to John Drake, the second installment,
PIECES OF EIGHT, is already completed and he is working on the
third title, SKULL AND BONES, which will end where TREASURE ISLAND
began. However, the author doesn’t plan to stop there. He
says, “Beyond that, I plan to re-write TREASURE ISLAND,
explaining what really happened, and maybe sequels
beyond.” So it looks like we readers are in for quite a treat
in learning the real story behind Stevenson’s
classic. If the rest of the novels are as well-written and engaging
as this one is, they will also be a pleasure to read.
Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on January 22, 2011