reasure Island, one of my favorites. Anyone who reads that is in the little club that knows that Long John Silver is not a fearsome blood-soaked pirate, no. He’s a manipulator and odds-player, changing sides as needed and playing his cards clever. And at the end of that story, he’s sprung by Ben Gunn, the cheese-drooling castaway, and apparently sails off to freedom, wealth and anonymity. And good for him.
Dead Man’s Chest is a sequel to this tale of pirates and buried treasure. We meet Captain John Paul Jones (of later naval valor, so we think), on the run from a charge of murder (he killed a mutineer, we are told, who had it coming). He befriends David Nobel, a merchantmen’s son, who can “help” him along. Though this help is really coming through his uncle, Long John Silver (once a pirate, now a barkeep) who desires nothing more than to pick up all that treasure he never got in the original.
Okay, and this is, what I think, is the weak point of the story. Long John tries to manipulate people but his schemes are so twisted and convoluted that even Machiavelli would groan from the headache caused. It all involves two treasures, to identical ships fitted with hidden cannons, the American Revolution, a thousand desperately needed cannons, all sorts of crazy twists. I mean, really, Long John, couldn’t you come up with a simpler way to get that treasure? With all the roadbocks and sabotages and whatnot, I was getting to where I just wanted everyone in their happy ending place.
Also, the characters seemed a bit strange – I wasn’t sure if I liked Captain Jones at all – he undermined other captains’ authority, he ripped the backs off of sailors, all that, and I didn’t’ see any character growth come from this. And David, playing his two-faced game under his captain, was never forced to account for what was nothing short of treachery. In the end, he didn’t even have to apologize (or admit to) his part in the plot.
But I’ll admit that author Roger Johnson had his sailing and sea battle scenes down. They were very thrilling, even comical (in a good way) in places. I really enjoyed that part of the book (though a ship sinking in shark-infested waters – there’s some nightmare fuel for you).
So overall, yeah, it was okay but left me a bit confused on the intricacies of the plottings. Yes, if you loved Treasure Island or interesting books set during the American Revolution, you might want to give it a try. Otherwise, well, there’s always Hornblower.