Category Archives: Adventure

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

Title: Treasure Island

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Publication Date: 1883

Review Score: 7/10

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is the archetypal sea voyaging, treasure hunting tale that has been a favourite amongst children and adults for over 100 years. In this classic adventure, a young boy by the name of Jim Hawkins discovers a treasure map and sets out on a voyage with a bunch of sea hardy buccaneers, to find Captain Flint’s gold.

However, Jim soon discovers treachery is afoot as a group of the travelling crew, lead by one Long John Silver, plan to kill the captain and steal the treasure. The two camps of men both make it on to the island but with only one treasure map and one boat to get them back home a tale of war, bargaining and deceit begins.

What can you say about Treasure Island except it is THE adventure novel! Like most people, even before reading it I was well aware of Long John Silver, the Black Spot and the stereotypical treasure map with the big red cross marking where the doubloons and bounty are hidden!

Treasure Island brings all of these cliché elements together, but because it is the original sea shanty novel it does not seem foolish or over done, it is just fun and entertaining. Even though it is a children’s novel I still found it exciting and engaging, the language and style is suitable for all ages and Stevenson is able to keep you guessing from one chapter to the next.

The ideas have been repeated and ridiculed over and over in other books, TV shows and films, but don’t let that put you off, this is a fun adventure book that holds a very important, inspirational place in literary history.

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Robinson Crusoe – Daniel DeFoe

Title: Robinson Crusoe

Author: Daniel DeFoe

Publication Date: 1719

Review Score: 8/10

Robinson Crusoe is a young English man with a thirst for adventure and so against his parent’s wishes sets sail on a voyage around the world. However, it seems that the winds of fait are not on his side as his first trip ends in shipwreck, his second ends in capture by pirates and his final voyage leaves him stranded on a desert island.

What follows is years of hardship and turmoil as Crusoe has to provide food for himself, build shelter and avoid capture by the islands native cannibalistic tribe. Not knowing what island he is on and no sign of any other passing ships God only knows if he will ever be saved.

Published in 1719 Robinson Crusoe is the oldest book on the 1001 list that I have read so far, and because of this I expected it to be quite hard going, but with the continuous adventure and fast pace of the story it is actually fairly easy.

However, what I found most enjoyable about Robinson Crusoe was not the adventure and excitement but more the sheer industrious nature of Crusoe in this horrendous predicament. Over the course of many years on this island Crusoe is able to not just build a shelter and harvest fruits but is also able to capture animals and farm them, grow barley and rice and even make pottery.

I think what makes this so entertaining is that Crusoe survives for years on his own and build a life for himself in this hardship whereas I would probably die as soon as my iPhone did.

It is one of the original adventure tales and a book that has inspired hundreds more and is well worth of its place on the list of 1001 books to read before you die.

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Journey to the Centre of the Earth – Jules Verne

Title: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Author: Jules Verne

Publication Date: 1864

Review Score: 8/10

The year is 1863 and a learned German professor by the name of Von Hardwigg has just gotten his hands on an ancient Icelandic manuscript by the famous Snorri Sturluson, but for the life of him he cannot decipher it.

After days of intellectual torment struggling with the mysterious writings, the professor’s nephew and protégé cracks the code and discovers the secret of the great Snorri Sturluson. At first he cannot bring himself to tell his uncle of the meaning of the note but eventually he has to relinquish and the professor discovers that Snorri Sturluson has written of his journey to the centre of the earth through volcanic tubes.

And now, knowing of this great voyage completed by Sturluson the professor is determined to follow his footsteps and reach the centre of the earth. Although against the journey, believing it to be impossible, the professors nephew is soon dragged along on this crazy adventure in which the 2 men, plus a trusty Icelandic guide by the name of Hans, delve deep into the earth’s crust through a maze of volcanic tunnels and encounter an underground forest, gigantic sea monsters and teeter on the brink of starvation.

After thoroughly enjoying Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days I was extremely eager to read Journey to the Centre of the Earth and I am glad to say it lived up to my expectations! Verne’s writing style is effortless to read, his characters are thoroughly intriguing and his ideas are beyond comprehension. Although written nearly 150 years ago Journey to the centre of the Earth is still highly energised, exciting and relevant for a modern audience.

I wouldn’t say that Journey to the Centre of the Earth is as good as Around the World in 80 Days, but it is still a great book and well deserved of its place on the 1001 Books to Read Before you Die list.

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Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne

Title: Around the World in 80 Days

Author: Jules Verne

Publication Date: 1873

Review Score: 9/10

Phileas Fogg is a man of habit, going through the same routine every day, reading the paper, lunching at the Reform Club and playing whist, he is a rich man, but no one knows where his fortune came from, in fact no one knows very much about him at all!

It would appear that nothing could shake Mr Fogg from his life of simple ritual, but one day he gets involved in a heated discussion regarding how long it would take to go around the world. The papers claim that it would only take 80 days and Mr Fogg agrees, but no one else in the club does, leading to a rather audacious bet!

All at once the routine is shattered and Phileas Fogg is on his way around the globe, using any means necessary to get back to London in 80 days, including travelling by train, ship, sledge and even elephant (but not hot air balloon! This does not actually happen in the main novel despite what Steve Coogan may do in the film!).

Even if everything went to plan 80 days would be a tight deadline, but Mr Fogg also has to deal with unexpected delays, the sometimes idiotic behaviour of his servant and a police detective by the name of Mr Fix who is determined to stop his journey.

First of all I will start by saying that Around the World in 80 Days is a truly brilliant book! From start to finish I struggled to put it down at all, it was just addictive! Mr Fogg is a truly unique character who is completely mysterious from first page to last and gives nothing away, yet despite his cool countenance and level head the book is dripping with excitement and emotion!

I found myself rooting for Mr Fogg from the moment he set foot on the first train and whilst he gives every delay and inconvenience little notice, as if they were all part of the plan, I found myself getting frustrated on his behalf, just praying that he would make it in time.

It’s original, lively, easy to read and just plain fun! If you liked the film you will love the book, if you have never watched the film, good! Read the book instead, it’s brilliant!

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The 39 Steps – John Buchan

Title: The 39 Steps

Author: John Buchan

Publication Date: 1915

Review Score: 8/10

In The 39 Steps we are introduced to the steely, charming and witty Richard Hannay, the adventure hero who appears in 5 of Buchan’s novels, but none so delightful as this first one.

In this original Richard Hannay novel we find our leading man accidently caught up in an international plot of war, after a murder is committed in his apartment, and so, to save himself from the clutches of the police or worse, he must flee London, travel to Scotland and figure out what rouse is a foot.

It may sound like a basic idea and a story that has been told a hundred times, but the way in which Buchan weaves the plot makes it highly exhilarating and very unpredictable.

Giving the reader very little to piece the mystery together throughout, the book is able to hold its fast pace right until the end. Along the way you can’t help but get caught up in the continual shock and awe of events and become completely compelled towards Hannay who is a fantastically well developed character.

This may just seem like a stream of praise rather than an adequate description of the book, but there isn’t much to say but that. You know what a mystery, adventure tale is and this is one of the greatest!

I suppose, the best way I can think to describe it is by saying, the mixture of mystery, crime and adventure makes The 39 Steps a kind of cross between Sherlock Homes and James Bond. Hannay is less intelligent that Holmes and not as violent as Bond, but he is adequately equipped in both departments.

Inspiration to the likes of Graham Greene, Ian Fleming and John le Carré, The 39 Steps is well deserving of its place in literary history and on the list of 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die.

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