I finally got round to reading the swine that sabotaged my own Further Adventures of Jim Hawkins. Much more slow-burning and introspective – you can tell it was written by a poet. I’m pretty sure Jim never got into meditations on the psychological states of the sea in the original. It does mean that when we encounter the baddies, though, they are well and truly unquestionably evil, degenerate in every moral, spiritual and physical sense. (They are the three sailors marooned on the island at the end of the original, who have now built up their own little empire with the survivors of a slave ship that ran aground a few years ago.) But for precisely that reason there is nothing complex about them. They will never do anything to surprise anyone. In fact all the characters are under such tight authorial control that you know none of them will ever wander off and do something really stupid that buggers up the plot and has to be sorted out, which is what makes a book interesting. When they do do something stupid, it’s for no other reason than they felt like it, which really doesn’t convince.
My biggest gripe remains that it’s yet another return to Treasure Island – something Jim vowed he would never do. Fair enough, it’s Jim’s son doing the returning, but the fact is there’s enough potential in Jim’s story for all sorts of other adventures that don’t feature the island.