Review of ~ Robert Louis Stevenson – Kidnapped

7/ 10

“I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both, and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first.”

We find ourselves in Bonny old Scotland – circa June 1751 – King George and the red-coats rule this empire. Following on from the Jacobite Revolution; we are introduced to an innocent teenage gentleman known as David Balfour. To initiate the narrative; David and the minister, Mr. Campbell discuss the necessity for a journey that our young hero should take following the untimely death of both his parents. He is entrusted with a letter that was written from his father’s very own hand which cannot be opened until it is delivered to a certain individual = his conniving uncle who happens to be, of course; a close family member of Young Balfour. His uncle represents the Scottish House “Shaw” – the destination of the aforementioned is close to Edinburgh and so David treks as a young 18-year-old person would. Maybe even skipping across the glen in bonnie pretty spirits ay lad?

Is everyone in fiction who is called Ebeneezer a scumbag? David journeys for a few days across the lowlands of Scotland including Cramond, Colinton until the sight of the Glasgow Road is in his peripheral vision. At this point, he knew he was close to the presented described destination. After these travels to start his (what would turn out to be) journey, he meets his uncle. I will not say too much but upon their meeting, after slight consideration, David realises his uncle is a slimy, sinister snake who has stolen his inheritance. After that Ebeneezer undermines David’s intelligence after failing in a notorious plot to kill him – David; only because of his (soon to be but present in this tale) heroic wit – that is already bubbling below the surface – the mean uncle arranges for him to be “K1dnapped”! (Some book title on GR you have to spell wrong or it deletes them and makes reviewers look like a sausage!)

This book was so amazing – that if I was to truly analyse it. I would probably write more pages than Mr. Stevenson did.

I will not divulge too much into the intricacies of the story but essentially David’s mean uncle sells him out – literally. David is a lord by name and paper but Ebeneezer pays pirates money to send David to Carolina to become a slave worker. On his journey on said pirate ship they impale a boat and a gentleman called Alan Breck joins the fray. That is all I will say story wise so don’t worry.

The journey continues. It is David’s voyage away from and journey back to his rightful estate that is the “lions share” of the novel. My father is a Scottish History lecturer – so every time I mentioned a character in this book as I was reading – he would tell me how legitimate they were at being presented by Stevenson in this era as the majority were real characters/ people in this amazingly interesting but dark age. E.g. Alan Breck, James of the Glens, Red Fox, Robin Oig (Rob Roys’ Son).

If you read this book – your mind will flow in a Scottish accent 100%.

As a non-Scottish reader – do you know what these words mean that are prevalent? If I wasn’t half Scottish I may have struggled… didnae, auld, dram, ay, keek, lassie, ken, kenned, gliff, whigh etc…

Following this colloquial language. It cannot get more Scottish than one amazing scene. Two gents challenge each other for a dual, but instead of deadly combat with pistols and ten steps etc… they settle on a bagpipe showdown!! There is a huge divide between the “hielands” and the lowlands. England analysed Scotland as one country at this stage but all of the Clan’s saw many different countries in Scotland. In the highlands – people mostly only speak Gaelic which alienates David in their presence. The closer the south of Scotland you were… the more English you were.. does that play a part perhaps?

To me, I would probably give this 3.75 stars. Not as much happens in this as Treasure Island. However; I enjoyed losing myself in the world of my forefathers. I am named after Scottish kings y’know.

I will check out the film later. Love as always- James

4 thoughts on “Review of ~ Robert Louis Stevenson – Kidnapped

Add yours

  1. Interesting if underwhelming review of one of the great Scottish novels.
    And a pity you didn’t say more about RLS, a quite remarkable man.
    But plenty of good stuff here, so keep at it!


  2. It’s interesting to read a classic – the style is often at odds with what’s considered “good writing” today. Some books, like Frankenstein, are loved for their premise rather than the original book. I read War of the Worlds recently and was surprised at how different it is from any of the movies – even the old B&W one. But certain elements from the story make it all the way thru to the most recent movie. I’ll have to pick up Kidnapped sometime. Thanks for the review šŸ™‚


  3. I preferred Treasure Island too, and I did wonder with this one how well it would work for anyone who didn’t know at least a bit about Scottish history (being a Scot myself, I’m reasonably familiar with it). But like you I enjoyed it – I’d agree with your rating, I think. Have you ever read his short story Thrawn Janet? He really gets into the Scottish language in that one…


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