Kidnapped – a review

A rugged land to cross on foot ... and remain out of sight
A rugged land to cross on foot … and remain out of sight

 Having recently read ‘Treasure Island’ again, I was already enjoying the wonderful language and style of Robert Louis Stevenson  as I started into the story. It was like stepping into an old pair of training shoes. Within a few sentences, I was comfortable.

‘Kidnapped’, is set in18th century Scotland, in the period following the Jacobite Risings. It is a tale of deceit, courage, loyalty, hardship, friendship, patriotism, and terrorism. Although the story gets underway with a kidnapping, at its core, this is a tale of human relationships, and how they can be affected by a variety of outside influences.

David Balfour, is a young man from a poor background. He finds himself alone in the world, following the death of his father; his mother previously having passed away. David takes to the road, to visit his Uncle Ebenezer, who will perchance help the teenager to make a life. The King of England’s forces have all but taken over in Scotland, and David’s family are loyal to their new masters.

Within days of leaving the parental home, David finds himself under no illusions at to where his future lies; but it is not as he had imagined. He watches his hopes and ambitions disappear, as he sales from Scotland’s east coast with a crew of misfits; not least of which is the ship’s Captain.

Fate deals several blows to David Balfour, and in each he finds options, but he must be sure to steer his own course. Survival becomes his watchword. On the seagoing voyage, due to a mishap, David is introduced to Allan Breck Stewart, a Scottish freedom fighter, fiercely opposed to the English invasion.

David Balfour finds himself without passage on a ship, with only a wanted criminal as an ally. He must decide if he should choose to accept that situation. Between him and his original start point is a country divided; between loyal clans, and patrolling English soldiers. After all that has happened in a short time, David must decide if he should he try to get back home.

It’s no small wonder that this story has been made into movies and TV series. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good yarn, with many a twist and turn.          

Easier said than done

My images are photos I took whilst visiting Scone Palace, in Perth, Scotland.  This is a token selection of the international range of trees on the estate.  The decision to produce woodland that was representative of so many countries would not have been taken lightly, but the men who suggested they would do it, stuck by their word, took many years and produced a splendid example of tree species from around the world.

A snapshot of the variety of trees in the gardens of Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland
As a writer it’s easy enough to suggest you will undertake a particualar task, like entering a competition.  We can all throw caution to the wind and make a claim like that but it’s getting down to the hard work that is the test.  I know I don’t have to write a complete novel in a short time span but I do know that in the next few weeks I have to produce my best writing to stand a chance of being taken seriously.

A word count of 5000 is not a big deal to show a sample of a writer’s work.  Making every word earn it’s keep in the entry is the task.  I have the novel written and I have already spent hours editing the first two chapters.  My introductory work now shows the protagonist take unexpected action which is followed by dialogue.  The dialogue doesn’t explain the reasons for his actions but serves to further complicate the introduction into the plot.  The action is maintained with traces of dialogue but still no full explanation because I want it to come in a later chapter.

The second chapter shows the protagonist in an entirely different setting.  He is no longer a serving soldier and is now setting himself a task that some would suggest was foolhardy.  He meets a lady who will be a close companion and ally throughout the tale but she has a secret she will not divulge to him until almost the end of the story.

My attempts at a two page synopsis have so far ended in frustration and a lot of lost hours of writing, but having now consulted different reference books on the subject I feel more confident.  Making the synopsis as good a read as the novel is a challenge although I have to remind myself that the novel should also mirror the standard of the synopsis.  I have six weeks to produce my prize winning effort so armed with a fair knowledge of Glasgow, my hero’s home turf, my plot, cast of characters and a host of reference material I’m off again into a world of my own.

Douglas Fir - a specimen tree, grown from seed sent from the Columbia River in 1826