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Books for Adults - Fiction

Irwin Bryan's Reviews of John Drake's Prequel Series to Treasure Island

Flint and Silver                 Pieces of Eight                 Skull and Bones

Cover Art: Flint and Silver
Flint and Silver
By John Drake
Simon & Schuster, 2010, ISBN 9781416592778, $22.99
eBook: 2009, ISBN 9781439130315, $10.93

HarperCollins, 2010, ISBN 978-0-00-726894-8,
£7.99
eBook: 2008, ISBN 978-0-00-730316-8,
£4.99

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If you read and loved Robert Louis Stevensonís Treasure Island, you were left with questions about how and why the treasure was buried, where Silverís parrot came from, and certainly wondered how Silver lost his leg. Luckily, John Drake pondered these same issues and decided to write a series of prequels to Treasure Island. Finally, these and other questions are plausibly answered in Flint and Silver.

At first the chapters jump from one date to another and from Flint to Silver. This can make keeping track of things and going with the flow a bit difficult. But once Flint and Silver meet, you realize the opening chapters allow each personís character and history to be established separately, and the flow of events gets easier.

Flint is clearly evil and vile. Silver is nicer and more honorable. Together these men captain two pirate crews joined together. The various forms of riches each crew acquired separately are pooled together and added to with more piratical captures.

Then Flint launches his plan to bury the treasure on his secret island. His crew will agree to whatever he says. But Silver, and then his crew, doesnít agree and a rift forms. Debate and conflict are the result.

Obviously, if you read Treasure Island that is, Flint has his way and the riches get buried in a secret spot. He takes extra steps to insure the location is known only to him. A battle between the two crews leaves Silverís wrecked on the island and Flint sailing away. Thus setting the stage for a confrontation in the second book, Pieces of Eight. (I read the first chapter of the second book. At the end I had a very sinister laugh!)

This trilogy, which begins with Flint and Silver, is for adults only, meshes very well with Stevensonís original work, and answers the questions the original work left in our minds. Better yet, theyíre a great read full of exciting action and colorful characters.
Read an Excerpt
  John Drake talks about his book

Review Copyright ©2013 Irwin Bryan

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Cover Art: Pieces of Eight
Pieces of Eight
By John Drake
HarperCollins, 2010, ISBN 978-0-00-726896-2, AUS $24.99 / £7.99
eBook: 2009, ISBN 978-0-00-733223-6, £5.99

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In Pieces of Eight, the second book of the Flint and Silver trilogy, John Drake continues his prequel to Treasure Island. I thought the first book was a great read, and it was, but this next book was a fantastic read!

There were times when pivotal events happen in the span of two or three pages that totally took me by surprise. All the elements of a good pirate tale are found in this one novel: Pirates chasing merchant ships, naval ships chasing pirates, in-fighting among the brethren, a beautiful woman to add a little conflict and romance, cannon fire and casualties, stormy seas, and always the buried treasure to be secured.

For Flint and his crew, the action takes place heading to Charleston and then back to his island. Silver and his crew are on the island, taking steps to prepare and defend it from the vast number of fighters he expects Flint to return with. In this he guesses correctly, but even he never expects to fight the enemy his crew ends up facing. Flint returns with a vengeance and an army ready and able to do his bidding.

Thatís as much substance as Iíll share. But Iíll tell you this: the cover of the book advertises ďHigh Seas, High Adventure, Lowest Treachery.Ē All can be found in this one story, and you can never imagine how low the treachery will go!

The story culminates in more surprises and unresolved issues. Iím glad I have the third book, Skull and Bones, on hand to begin reading immediately!


Review Copyrighted ©2013 Irwin Bryan

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Cover Art: Skull
          and Bones
Skull and Bones
By John Drake

HarperCollins, 2011, ISBN 978-0-00-726899-3, £7.99 / AUS $24.99 / CAN $17.99
eBook ISBN 978-0-00-736614-9, £13.99

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Usually when you read a trilogy, the third or last book is about the final push toward the goal, the culmination of efforts to achieve success, or the end of a voyage or trek to a homecoming.

In John Drakeís third book in the series, Skull and Bones, you read how Flint and Silver fail to obtain their treasure or reconcile their differences. This neatly sets up Robert Louis Stevensonís Treasure Island at the beginning of his classic tale. They, or at least Silverís crew, is already on the island holding the treasure. Flint succeeds in dealing with Silverís crew and the threat they posed to his wealth. The next thing you know, another interloper drives them all from the island.

In the process Silver regains his ship and convinces the crew to sail for England and redemption of a kind. Flint, without a ship or a crew, finds suitable accommodation on an English warship and also heads for England and his own attempt at redemption.

Although that redemption may not all work out as they each hope, they leave England as one crew, with Flint and Silver each holding half of the map to the treasure and heading for the island to reclaim it. But greed, jealousy, and Fate conspire against them, and the survivors leave empty-handed and altered by the experience.

John Drakeís Flint & Silver trilogy is wonderfully entertaining, and I heartily recommend the books to anyone thinking of returning to Treasure Island! And thereís also an authorís comment at the end that indicates Drake may be writing his own version of Treasure Island!

Review Copyrighted ©2013 Irwin Bryan

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