Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Long John Silver Vol 1 Cinebook review

Remember those books you read when you were young, and thought they were brilliant, and then, on revisiting them as an adult you discovered that they were actually utter rubbish?
This was/is not the case with all of them, of course. The most notable among them, in my opinion, is Treasure Island. This book is not just a rollicking adventure tale well told- it is also a genuinely important piece of literature. Literature that’s entertaining and cool! What an invention!

Anyway, there have been countless attempts to recapture the magic of the original novel in attempted sequels. Some of them have been okay, some rubbish. But each of them made the same error- they mistook the villain of the story for an anti-hero.
Long John Silver is not a nice man, and any attempts to soften him always end up failing. He’s a pirate, for goodness sake!
Which brings us to Cinebook’s Long John Silver.
This is not a sequel to Treasure Island, but merely "an homage to an extraordinary masterpiece" as they explain in the afterword.
So, in that respect, we should ask- does it succeed?
And the answer has to be: undoubtedly yes.
Our main character in this volume- Lady Vivian Hastings- is a gloriously grotesque person. She is cold and beautiful, scheming and cruel, selfish and greedy. She’d make a great villain. But, as is revealed, she has good reasons for her terrible behaviour, the reader ends up not only feeling sympathy, but rooting for her as a heroine.

And all this is before we have even met the titular character.
Do they do him justice? Well, for what I’ve seen so far with this volume (volume two is on the list for reading very soon!) they do. Silver here is a huge hulking man, intimidating and clever, but with a streak of charm running through the middle.

And the art... oh the art. It really is something else- absolutely exquisite. 
This first book is very much set up, with the characters only assembling for the adventure proper by the end of the book, but I can guarantee you’ll want to join them on board ship, as they set sail for whatever the future holds for them, in volume two.

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