More boys’ adventures

227. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Newly orphaned David Balfour leaves his quiet Lowland village in Scotland to seek his uncle and his fortune, and discovers that honour, politics and family ties don’t always mean what he thought they would. I rather wish I’d done what Stevenson recommends early in the tale, and had a decent map of Scotland beside me, to trace David and Alan’s travels, but I didn’t, and wasn’t reading a text that might have had one in its endpapers.

Instead, I listened to another newly catalogued Librivox edition, read by one person, who does very well at distinguishing the voices, and gives a pretty disclaimer at the very beginning as to being American and thus not having perfection in his various Scots accents.

In any case, I was greatly intrigued by the descriptions of the Highlanders still hiding leaders, arms and papers after the ’45, and the exposure of a Whiggish Lowland boy thrown upon them after being betrayed further South.

I especially like how real David is. He gets exhausted, and snappish, and ungrateful, as well as being able to push himself further than he thought he could. He gets ill from hardship and speaks his mind even when he knows it’s ridiculous to do so, and that he could obtain the same result at less cost by keeping quiet. He can compromise, and allow time to run its course. Alan is a rather larger than life character, but he has his faults and his justifications just the same. I was a little surprised at just where the tale ended, but if abrupt it was clear, so that isn’t a major complaint.

And, of course, in the back of my mind I was thinking of the overlapping time and place with some of the Gabaldon books, as well as histories of the period I have read and am reading.

228. The Swoop! by P. G. Wodehouse

Again a new Librivox tale, and a Wodehouse story I didn’t know about. It made me smirk and giggle a good few times, if not quite guffaw, but that might be to do with the fact that it’s decidedly unPC and generally of its time (1909), rather than for all time. Apparently invasion stories decrying the vulnerability of Britain (here England) and the unreadiness of her armed forces for war were all the rage, and Wodehouse seems to enjoy his satire by giving the Boy Scouts as the last useful defence force. (Although the general indifference and desire to keep normal life going of the great British public has its share in sending the multiple invaders running for home.)

Niccolo Rising chapter 7: do I have to do more to show you why I love Dunnett’s voice and characters than to quote the beginning of the chapter?

Marian de Charetty … placed [Claes] under house arrest, and did the same for her breezy son Felix. She did not think, unfortunately, of restraining her mercenary captain Astorre, whom she considered an adult.

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