Book Review: Treasure Island - R L Stevenson

There are stories you know well but you never really read well. Captain Flint (the man and the parrot), Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver and Billy Bones, the Old Sea Dog are immortal characters, without a touch of age upon them or their story. Treasure Island was perhaps the first classic I actually skimmed through many times in my childhood. I didn’t read it in earnest until now, and I did that because the final season of Black Sails is about to end.

Like with any origin story, the series has piqued the romance and the nostalgia of the Treasure Island we know so well. In the context of the series, the book is even more interesting. A reading of the book alone leaves many questions unanswered. How did Billy Bones end up with the map? Just what sort of a monster was Captain Flint? How did the most feared pirate of all times (to whom, “Blackbeard was a child.") come to fear his own quartermaster - a cripple? The series writers have done a wonderful job of complementing the characters from the book.

Humanizing monsters and villains is not new - in fact it’s quite fashionable, but Treasure Island did it first with Long John Silver. This was perhaps the first time in literature that a complete villain was shown with streaks of humanity and honour. The series does more than its part in holding up Stevenson’s characters and their motivations. The novel itself is timeless, but even more romantic in the light of back stories like Black Sails.

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