Review Blog

Sep 11 2009

Pieces of eight by John Drake

cover image

HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN9780007305971.
John Drake has given another installment of the Treasure Island story. The pirate characters are all there; Long John Silver, Flint, Black Dog, Ben Gunn and of course the parrot. This time however the Royal Navy becomes involved as well as an Indian tribe, the Patanq. Naturally enough the tale has everything to do with buried treasure and takes place mainly on that very familiar island.
Drake does introduce some changes however that Robert Louis Stevenson didn't think to include. There are women! There is Danny Bentham a pirate captain who disguises herself as a man but has a preference for women and the lovely Selena with whom both Silver and Flint are in love. Naturally with the inclusion of women there is also much talk of 'rogering' and associated sexual escapades. The language which Drake includes also goes beyond 'shiver me timbers' to include some very earthy (or perhaps salty) swearing.
The reader is given some insight into Joseph Flint's boyhood which goes some way to explain his very nasty sadistic tendencies. The main characters are clever, single minded, and although very different, are still single minded in their determination to grab the enormous fortune that is Flint's treasure. On the other hand the majority of the rest are portrayed as simple folk, if not dim witted, with exception of the Indian leader, Dreamer.
Drake has written a rollicking tale that moves along, for the most part, at a spanking pace. There is action aplenty both on board ship and on land. However I'm curious just as to whom the book is aimed, since it rules out a younger audience and I'm not sure if the Treasure Island story will attract a large adult readership.
Mark Knight

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