Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (audiobook)

Title: Treasure Island
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Read by: Frederick Davidson
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Length: 7 CDs, approximately 8 hours
Source: Wisconsin Public Library Consortium from the Kewaunee Public Library Website (Digital Download in Overdrive Media Console

Somehow in my youth, I managed to miss Treasure Island.  I had heard of the novel, but I never read it nor watched a movie version of it.  As the month of March focused on Robert Louis Stevenson, I vowed to rectify this omission.
Treasure Island was a rollicking adventure novel that was a perfect audiobook adventure.  I listened to the Blackstone Audio version on my Droid while doing household tasks and I really enjoyed it.  Frederick Davidson was a wonderful narrator that was able to bring the pirate crew and cast of characters brilliantly to life.  I especially loved his interpretation of Long John Silver.

For those like me that somehow missed this novel, Treasure Island tells the tale of a young lad, Jim Hawkins.  He lives in an inn with his mother and father and their lodger, Billy Bones.  Billy Bones is an old seaman and likes to drink and tell swashbuckling tales.  He has Jim on the look-out for the “one-legged man” and lives in mortal fear of him.  Jim’s father dies and soon afterwards an old blind seaman stops to see Billy Bones and give him a “black spot.”  Bones dies of “apoplexy” at this pirate summons.  Young Jim and his mother search Bones belongings for the money owed to them and Jim finds a mysterious oilskin packet during the search.  While they are searching, they hear a tap, tap, tap as the blind pirate approaches with his cane.  As pirates overtake the inn and Jim and his mother try to escape, the book has one of the best suspense sequences that I have ever read (or listened too).  I was in mortal fear myself!
The adventure continues on as Young Jim shows the magistrate, Dr. Livesey, and the local Squire, Squire Trelawney the packet and they are excited to find a treasure map within.  The three decide to search for the treasure together.  Squire Trelawney obtains the ship the Hispaniola, hires Captain Smollett, and a cook Long John Silver who requisitions the rest of the crew.  As the voyagers near their destination, it is soon discovered that treachery is at hand.  Will young Jim be able to navigate his way through this treachery of the crew to find the treasure?

I really enjoyed this novel.  It was a fantastic adventure story and I couldn’t wait to hear what would come next.  As I said before, some scenes, such as when the pirates come to the inn, have the reader at the edge of their seats with suspense.  What elevate this story above “just” an adventure story are the great characters, particularly Long John Silver.  Is he a bad guy or a good guy?  He is wonderful character and I think I could read an entire novel just about him. 

I loved all of the pirate lore in Treasure Island that has become common place in the movies, music, and novels of today.  The “black spot” was in both Pirates of the Caribbean as well as on Doctor Who.  According to the expert (Wikipedia),   this is the first story in which “x marks the spot appeared. A lot of the pirate tunes we think of today were in the novel and I wonder what Stevenson used for a source.  The entire language of the pirates, their dress, wooden legs, and parrots or in other words, everything we use to describe pirates was included in this novel.  I want to read a book that delves deeper into the history of pirates and Robert Louis Stevenson.  Does anyone know of a good book?  Treasure Island takes place in the mid-18th century, which is at the height of piracy.
Overall, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is a great story with fantastic characters and adventure with suspense that is not to be missed. 


  1. I just about had a heart attack when I read about the black spot myself when I was a kid, and the blind pirate approaching was on par with the Wicked Witch of the West when it came to sheer terror.

    Glad you enjoyed this. My brothers and I loved this story, and one even got a parrot and named hm Captain Flint and attempted to teach him to say "pieces of eight."

    I listened to Kidnapped a few years ago, and these stories do lend themselves to audio, don't they?

    Good luck playing in the pirate oeuvre :)

  2. How I remember that dreaded black spot! This would be a terrific audio book, I think, given the characters. I can almost hear them in my head as I type....

  3. I loved this story and am glad to see that you read it and enjoyed it.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

  4. I have had this one my shelf forever but haven't read it yet. I didn't know what the black spot was until about 6 months ago when I discovered BBC's Horrible Histories and they had a skit about it :)

  5. Treasure Island well deserves its status as a beloved classic. It's a story of suspense and adventure that can be enjoyed at a child's level, but has substance for adults as well. I would recommend without reserve it to virtually anyone.