Thursday, August 20, 2009


Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Kidnapped (Tundra, 2007).

I never read Kidnapped when I was the target age for it. I seem to remember enjoying two or three of Robert Louis Stevenson's novels when I was in middle school, but never found the time for this one. Anyway, a few years ago, the city of Edinburgh tried a neat little initiative to get everybody in town reading the same book, and four editions of this classic were prepared. These were the original novel with annotations, an edition "translated" into Lowland Scots dialect, a version for younger readers, and this comic adaptation by 2000 AD veterans Alan Grant and Cam Kennedy.

I'd been intending to try this one out ever since it was announced, but only found a copy last month at Boston's wonderful Million Year Picnic. The story's certainly good escapist fun - it's about David Balfour, a seventeen year-old who learns, after his parents' deaths, that an estate inheritance awaits him, only to be betrayed by his greedy uncle and sold into slavery and bound for the Carolinas. But world events overtake the ship, and a chance meeting with Alan Breck Stewart sees the two released on the mainland, where the politics of the time, just after the Jacobite Rebellion, have Stewarts and Campbells at loggerheads, and soon both men are on the run after the assassination of the king's agent Colin Roy.

As for the adaptation, I think that Alan Grant did the best he could with the page count assigned, but looking over what was omitted from the original novel for space reasons, you can't help but wish the publishers could have paid out to make this a little longer. Yet the price isn't completely unreasonable for 64 pages of such glorious Cam Kennedy artwork. Kennedy's been overlooked by fandom for far too long; this is fantastic stuff, and certainly worth keeping an eye out for a copy. I hope that my son will enjoy it!

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