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Silver and Blood: Return to Treasure Island by [Needle, Jan]
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Silver and Blood: Return to Treasure Island Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Kindle Edition, 20 Nov 2013
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Length: 172 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 481 KB
  • Print Length: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Skinback Books; 1 edition (20 Nov. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007KCXW9C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #779,794 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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Jan Needle's return to Treasure Island is much better than a simple re-visiting. I'd expected it to be Stevenson's story in modern dress - speed boats and AK47s, a DVD instead of a map etc. That's all there and very enjoyable but what makes it a re-imagining reather than a re-visiting is the way that Needle gets inside his main characters -- his Long John Silver is superb and his Jim is believably confused, duped and frightened. There are new characters (I especially liked the ship's engineer) and the moral ambiguity of Stevenson's 'good', socially respectable characters is provocatively conveyed. Exciting action without too high a body count. I've left a full review on the indie ebook review site.
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When trying to evaluate a book, I'm not sure that's it's a very good approach to criticise it for not being what it doesn't set out to be. Nor does it help much to draw distinctions of value between prequels, sequels and re-presentations set in another century and in another society. Andrew Motion's sequel to Treasure Island does not compete with Silver and Blood: it is a different sort of book for a different purpose. In the same way William Horwood's sequel to Wind in the Willows is utterly different from and doesn't compete with Jan Needle's Wild Wood, his brilliantly retold and wickedly funny version of The Wind in the Willows from the Weasels' point of view, which also involves a searing comment on Edwardian society and thus, inevitably, our own. Stevenson was writing an adventure story for boys. That it has so many depths and insights, such ambiguous characters, such profound questions of conduct and morality is because he was a great writer and simply could not write at one level only. Such books have to be revisited. Needle has recreated Silver in all his doubtful glory and heightened both his evil and his saving magnanimity and that to me is a wonderful thing. He's seen and dramatised the grasping greed and hypocrisy of Livesey and Trelawney in a way which Victorian social restraints prevented Stevenson from doing, though he understands them perfectly well, and that's a perceptive comment in an age when at last such revelations about the ruling classes are possible. He's turned Jim from being a surprised, wide-eyed pawn in the game into a cynical, observant modern teenager. He's taken violence away from the romanticism of chasing up the ratlines with cutlasses drawn and turned it into the sordid business of AK7s and death both indiscriminate and bloody. In short, Needle has written a book for our times, a new and realistic look at a great classic, a comment on a whole genre and also a book with all the narrative drive of the great RLS himself.
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It's hard to make Long John Silver's character even more ambiguous but Jan Needle pulls it off in this book, with a hint of tragic background. I got the feeling that there were many years spent thinking about Treasure Island, particularly the characters, before this book surfaced. A modern ship needs less crew, so this is a short book, but with the motivations less veiled. The author's respect for the original is very evident, and points like the economic pressure to become a pirate when your livelihood has been taken away updated. I'd recently reread Treasure Island and I loved this tribute to it. I don't know how good it would be if you hadn't read the original. I spent many pages thinking ,'But there's no Israel Hands. How can you have Treasure Island without Israel Hands? .....'
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I was drawn to this book as it was billed as a modern day version of Stevenson's classic. I found some of it far too similar to the orginal and some too far off- one or other consistently throughout would, perhaps, have made a more convincing read. Ocasionally I found the modernising extremly amusing but am not sure if that was my sense of humour or intenion! Other times it felt like an 80's modernisation rather than later. Needle portrayed Jim and his teen anxieties in a down to earth realistic way.
Overall it was a quite a compelling read and I am looking forward to seeing which, for me, works best re-write or sequel; by next reading Motion's sequel to Stevenson's orginal.
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