Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Published: 1886
Website: Wikipedia Page

Kidnapped is a strange but charming adventure story starring David Balfour, a young country boy who gets himself into an astonishing number of difficult and perilous situations. The overarching plot is this boy’s attempt to gain access to the inheritance he is due, and his devious uncle’s unwillingness to give it to him, to the point of attempted murder and kidnapping, wherein David is sold to a captain of a ship. The book is somewhat difficult to read at times owing to its archaic language (even with the help of footnotes) and long tangents of historical and geographical description. Nonetheless, it is quite an enjoyable read, since David, brave and beset by hardships at every turn is quite likeable, and as unbelievable as some of his plights are, the warmth and fun of the supporting characters more than make up for it. The best one, of course, is Alan Breck Stewart, a swashbuckling, well-dressed, proudly rebellious Scotsman who fights almost to the death to defend David, despite the differences in their political positions (a rather relevant personal difference in a time of rebellion). He is amusing, and at times annoying, but only enough to be genuinely sympathetic, so that the parting of David and Alan is touchingly sad.

I have not done this book justice with this response, however, because it is also a work of political and historical fiction which I simply do not possess a reference for. Even without such knowledge, however, it’s enjoyable to read a straightforwardly exciting novel involving a quest, a boy, and all of the troubles an imaginative author can throw at him.


2 Comments to “Kidnapped”

  1. when was it written? what’s the political subtext?
    its on my list…

  2. just finished it.
    its wonderful!
    stevenson can really write.
    not just the adventure stuff but he spends a lot of time characterizing the relationship of david–the hero–and alan–his older helper/friend/fellow-adventurer.
    they are political opposites (alan is a highlander wanting i guess scottish independence or a different king; david is a whig who likes the current king george), but get along famously, mostly; but there is this wonderful scene in which each have screwed up in some way, and blames the other; but doesn’t want to be blamed by the other. david in particular feels like he no longer owes alan anything and insults him overtly (and alan is likely to take offense at very little). the psychology of the whole scene is penetrating. and in the end david asks alan why he likes him and he says, “‘Deed, and I don’t know. For just precisely what I thought I liked about ye wass that ye never quarreled:–and now I like ye better!”

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