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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Piracy Viewed Through A Modern Lens

Silver: Return to Treasure Island - Andrew Motion

A sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Silver is an account of a voyage by Jim Hawkins' son and Long John Silver's daughter to the island where their fathers abandoned part of Captain Kidd's treasure, and marooned a handful of bloodthirsty pirates.

It's a respectful sequel with plenty of salt in the narrative and a plot full of twists and turns. However, there's a significant difference in tone between Motion's narrative and the original. His protagonists are more morally aware than their fathers, more in tune with contemporary readers in their sentiments. This is piracy viewed through the lens of the modern age.

As you might expect from the former British Poet Laureate, there is some finely turned prose, like this reflective passage about the sea.

"The earth remembers us. We are generally survived by the homes we have lived in - and our improvements, like our desecrations, leave marks on the landscape that curious historians may study. When we no longer live and breathe, headstones show where our journey has ended. In all such ways, the solid ground resembles a book, in which our stories are recorded.

"The sea is the opposite. Rolling waves eradicate everything written on them, whether it is the wake of a ship, or the passage of the wind, or a log, or a bottle - or a man. After every kind of interruption, water wants nothing more than to be its simple self again."

I wasn't entirely sure who the audience was intended to be. Sometimes it felt like a children's book written for adults, at other times like an adult book written for children. Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable read and a worthy homage to a great storyteller.