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Fails to hit its target
on 24 August 2010
So, you've read 'Treasure Island' and 'Kidnapped' - why not complete the set and read Stevenson's other adventure story 'The Black Arrow'? Except for the fact that it is not up to the standard of its predecessors
'The Black Arrow' was hastily written to commission. It has pace and energy; the reader is propelled onwards by events that come on top of one another with barely room for breathing space, but all I felt was confusion. Characters are not delineated clearly, and I gave up trying to work out who was Lancastrian and who Yorkist, and the motivation for their actions.
I suppose it can be argued that in a novel of this type, all this doesn't really matter, but conventions can sometimnes be stretched just too far.
I also had a problem with the 'tushery' - the cod medieval dialogue that is another convention in this type of story (compare, for example, Scott's 'Ivanhoe' and Harrison Ainsworth's historical novels), but Stevenson lays it on rather too thickly.
There are some good things: Stevenson sets the 'look and feel' of a scene deftly and the escape and battle scenes are well done.
But I shan't be re-reading 'The Black Arrow' in a hurry.