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Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Kidnapped (1886)

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: David Balfour (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,85966717 (3.75)251
  1. 100
    Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (edjane)
  2. 30
    The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan (chrisharpe)
  3. 20
    Birthright: The True Story that Inspired Kidnapped by A. Roger Ekirch (kraaivrouw)
  4. 10
    The Amateur Emigrant / The Silverado Squatters by Robert Louis Stevenson (John_Vaughan)
  5. 00
    Middle Passage by Charles Johnson (thesmellofbooks)
    thesmellofbooks: Young men in dire straits on the open seas, a background of oppression, and historical richness are a few of the elements these books share. They are both ripping good yarns.
  6. 02
    Foundling by D. M. Cornish (Nikkles)

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English (64)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
Swashbuckling adventure set in Scotland, the author of Treasure Island revels in this wild story. It didn't really come alive for me until the shipwreck. Even then, it's not one that sucked me in with every page. An entertaining adventure story. I can see loving this one if I read it when I was young, but as an adult it didn't hold my attention as much.

It fell into the same category as The Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, all excellent stories. But I think I would've loved them more if I had read them when I was younger.

"To be feared of a thing and yet do it is what makes the prettiest kind of a man." ( )
  bookworm12 | Nov 18, 2015 |
Why did I read it? Scotland has long held my interest, and I thought that since I had not read many of its authors, I ought to dive in, and, having listened to the BBC Radio Scotland, Scotland Outdoors podcast where they followed the route David Balfour takes in the book, I was keen to start with this, once of Scotland's most famous novels.

What's it about? Upon the death of his father, David Balfour is given a letter of introduction to Ebenezer Balfour, of Shaws House in Cramond. The welcome he receives from that man runs hot, and cold in turns. Mr Balfour proposes a visit to a lawyer, having been foiled in an attempt to cause David's death by sending him up a tower without light. The next day a young cabin boy arrives, Ransome, and he guides them to a ship, where David is coaxed on board, before being knocked out, and so the adventures begin.

What did I like? This is a "boy's own adventure" style story, and it did keep me wondering at how it would be resolved. I liked the mixture of fact with fiction, and the characters were very well drawn. There is a romantic taint to the tale, which refrained from being overly sentimental however.

Mr Kieron Elliott gave an excellent performance as narrator with his Scottish accent. I chose this edition over other audio formats, based on samples of voices, and I'm glad I chose this version. It was a lively narration, clear, even with the Scottish dialect. In fact, the audio production was good overall, with only one or two changes in tone, voice, and quality to mar the presentation.

What didn't I like? It was a slow start. I struggled to hold on through those first few chapters, but I'm glad I did. The language, being a little old fashioned, took some getting used to - and I am used to the language of Jane Austen. Eventually I was able to follow the rhythm, if not the Latin.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Absolutely. I think pre-teen boy readers might enjoy the tale far more than I. That said, I am going to delve into the sequel, Catriona, if I can find a narrator such as Kieron Elliott. This edition of Kidnapped was purchased from Audible., and was published by Recorded Books.

Rating: 4½/5 ( )
  Sile | Aug 4, 2015 |
An awesome adventure and nothing trivial or cliche about it. It is really the first part of a two volume story; it ends abruptly in Edinburgh with only some things resolved and its sequel, Catriona, picks up the story of David Balfour about an hour later. It inspired some thrilling illustrations by N.C. Wyeth and has some very funny bits. David's internal musings are moving and amusing and Allan Breck is a right handful. There is no extreme of weather that poor David does not endure. ( )
1 vote themulhern | Jan 21, 2015 |
Coming late to this adventure, I enjoyed reading it, even with the use of the Scots language (the free Kindle version has frequent footnotes translating the more unguessable words). The story is set in the year 1751, five years after the battle of Culloden which finally ended the Jacobite uprisings. Scotland is a divided nation and the old clan system is under threat. Highlanders are forbidden to carry arms and wearing the tartan is proscribed. The divisions between the clans are deep, particularly between those that have accepted Hanoverian rule and the Jacobite sympathisers.

The book's hero, David Balfour, is a Lowland Scot. His parents both dead, he sets out to find his extended family. The book starts and ends with his search for his rightful inheritance but the bulk of the book is the story of an epic journey, first in an ill-fated brig around Scotland and then across the country on foot as a fugitive with a colourful Jacobite companion, Alan Breck Stewart. Stevenson takes a true event, the Appin murder, as the start of this. Colin Roy Campbell, the King's factor in the Western Highlands was shot and killed by an unknown sniper. Alan Stewart (an historical character) was blamed by many, probably wrongly, but never apprehended. In a major miscarriage of justice, James Stewart, a clan chief, was hanged as an aider and abetter. Kidnapped has David Balfour joining up with a fictionalised Alan Stewart and sharing his flight to safety.

The first part of the book with the kidnap and the time at sea is exciting although, to be honest, the flight across the heather in the second part is fairly uneventful, focussing more on the variable relationship between David and Alan than any derring-do. The descriptions of the changing Highland weather and landscape are worth reading for the sense of atmosphere.

This was regarded, like Treasure Island, as the equivalent of a YA book in my youth and it is interesting to read in Stevenson's dedication that he doesn't necessarily expect the dedicatee to enjoy it but he thinks his son might. I am glad I caught up with it. ( )
1 vote abbottthomas | Jan 18, 2015 |
It's always fun to revisit childhood favorites. Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure story Kidnapped held two distinct memories for me—David's terrible climb in the dark up the stairs (which somehow seemed much longer and more tortuous to my younger self), and the hideout on the top of the rock, right above the heads of a whole troop of soldiers (so clever!).

To get a start in life, recently orphaned David Balfour must make his way to his uncle Ebenezer, but miserly Ebenezer Balfour has a secret to guard. He arranges for David to be kidnapped aboard the Covenant, where the young man has little hope of rescue until a rich stranger is picked up from a shipwreck. Overhearing the captain's plans to ambush and rob Alan Breck, David assists the little Highlander in defending the ship's cabin and winning free. Then follows a wild adventure through the heather, as David must flee or be caught up in a Highland feud. And behind it all is the mystery of why Uncle Ebenezer would go to such lengths to rid himself of an unwelcome nephew.

Stevenson's gift for writing believable characters never shows to better advantage than in his depiction of Alan Breck. Despite his diminutive stature, Alan towers large in both vanity and open-hearted friendship. Generous and brave but possessing a quick temper and a weakness for gambling, Alan becomes David's constant companion and guide through the physically and politically treacherous Highlands. I appreciated the realism of their friendship, quarrels and all.

It was fascinating to read this directly after finishing Rob Roy, which was apparently Stevenson's favorite of Sir Walter Scott's historical novels. I can see the influence. Stevenson dials the Scots back a bit (thank heavens) but still manages to give his dialogue a little Highland flavor.

It was also interesting to note the passing mention of the estate Rest-and-Be-Thankful, which is the setting of Elizabeth Marie Pope's novel The Sherwood Ring. Actually, reading Kidnapped and Rob Roy so close together gave me several insights on Pope's story, which takes elements of both novels (notably the villainous uncle and the Robin Hood-like outlaw characters) and reworks them into a fully satisfying tale in its own right.

Young readers can't do much better than to read Stevenson, and I look forward to reading his novels to my son when he's old enough. Recommended! ( )
2 vote wisewoman | Sep 26, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (137 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stevenson, Robert Louisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brundage, FrancesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cosham, RalphNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hite, SidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lampén, O.E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Sullivan, TomIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oakley, GrahamIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rhead, LouisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, LyndIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyeth, N.C.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Charles Baxter

If you ever read this tale, you will likely ask yourself more questions than I should care to answer: as for instance how the Appin murder has come to fall in the year 1751, how the Torran rocks have crept so near to Earraid, or why the printed trial is silent as to all that touches David Balfour. These are nuts beyond my ability to crack. But if you tried me on the point of Alan's guilt or innocence, I think I could defend the reading of the text. To this day you will find the tradition of Appin clear in Alan's favour. If you inquire, you may even hear that the descendants of "the other man" who fired the shot are in the country to this day. But that other man's name, inquire as you please, you shall not hear; for the Highlander values a secret for itself and for the congenial exercise of keeping it I might go on for long to justify one point and own another indefensible; it is more honest to confess at once how little I am touched by the desire of accuracy. This is no furniture for the scholar's library, but a book for the winter evening school-room when the tasks are over and the hour for bed draws near; and honest Alan, who was a grim old fire-eater in his day has in this new avatar no more desperate purpose than to steal some young gentleman's attention from his Ovid, carry him awhile into the Highlands and the last century, and pack him to bed with some engaging images to mingle with his dreams.

As for you, my dear Charles, I do not even ask you to like this tale. But perhaps when he is older, your son will; he may then be pleased to find his father's name on the fly-leaf; and in the meanwhile it pleases me to set it there, in memory of many days that were happy and some (now perhaps as pleasant to remember) that were sad. If it is strange for me to look back from a distance both in time and space on these bygone adventures of our youth, it must be stranger for you who tread the same streets--who may to-morrow open the door of the old Speculative, where we begin to rank with Scott and Robert Emmet and the beloved and inglorious Macbean--or may pass the corner of the close where that great society, the L. J. R., held its meetings and drank its beer, sitting in the seats of Burns and his companions. I think I see you, moving there by plain daylight, beholding with your natural eyes those places that have now become for your companion a part of the scenery of dreams. How, in the intervals of present business, the past must echo in your memory! Let it not echo often without some kind thoughts of your friend,

First words
I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work for Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Do not combine with any abridgement, adaptation, etc.
This work is Stevensons's Kidnapped (unabridged).  Please do not combine with collected works, anthologies or abridged editions.
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Book description
After his father dies, David Balfour is told to go to his uncle for his inheritance. But the uncle has no intention of letting the riches go - so he plots to kill Balfour, ultimately arranging for him to be kidnapped as a slave bound for the American colonies. Balfour's future looks bleak - until he witnesses a shipwreck and befriends the lone survivor, a rugged Highlander named Alan Breck Stewart. Together, they plan their rebellion...and the fight back home to claim Balfour's inheritance.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439295785, Mass Market Paperback)

Stevenson's famous novel of seafaring adventure, with an introduction by TK

Shipwreck. Murder. Flight. Intrigue. And, of course, kidnapping. David Balfour's adventures on the high seas are among the most evocative in classic literature.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:30 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In 1751 in Scotland, cheated out of his inheritance by a greedy uncle who has him kidnapped and put on a ship to the Carolinas, seventeen-year-old David Balfour escapes to the Highlands with the help of the Jacobite Alan Breck Stewart and there encounters further danger and intrigue as he attempts to clear his name and regain his property.… (more)

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17 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141441798, 0141326026, 0451531434

Tundra Books

An edition of this book was published by Tundra Books.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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