Flint and Silver (Library Edition): A Prequel to Treasure Island

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9781609810443: Flint and Silver (Library Edition): A Prequel to Treasure Island
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A swashbuckling triumph of storytelling, Flint and Silver provides a thrilling ride back to the rich and wondrous world of Long John Silver and his fiendish nemesis Joseph Flint in this prequel to the beloved classic Treasure Island. John Silver had never killed a man. Until now, his charisma, sheer size and, when all else failed, powerful fists had been enough to dispatch his enemies. But on a smoldering deck off the coast of Madagascar, his shipmates dead or dying all around him, his cutlass has just claimed the lives of six pirates. Finding himself surrounded by their revenge-thirsty crewmates, Silver fears his promising merchant navy career is at an end. But then the pirate captain makes him an offer he can’t refuse. On the other side of the world, Joseph Flint, a naval officer wronged by his superiors, plots a bloody mutiny. Strikingly handsome, brilliant but prey to sadistic tendencies, Flint is regarded as the most dangerous bandit on the high seas. Together these gentlemen of fortune forge a deadly and unstoppable partnership, steering a course through treachery and betrayal while amassing vast treasure. But the arrival of Selena, a beautiful runaway slave with a murderous past, and Flint’s schemes to secure the pieces of gold for himself trigger a rivalry that will turn the best of friends into sworn enemies. And so the legend of Treasure Island begins—an epic battle of wits and blades that unravels the mysteries of Robert Louis Stevenson’s greatest work on the sweltering seas of the Caribbean.

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About the Author:

John Drake trained as a biochemist—before realizing he wasn’t much good at science—and worked as an anchorman for PharmaVision, a live-TV broadcast service produced by ICI Pharmaceuticals, before leaving to write full-time in 1999. His hobbies and interests include muzzle-loaded shooting, history and politics. Flint and Silver was inspired by the many unanswered questions left in Robert Louis Stevenson’s much-loved classic, Treasure Island.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1

15th March 1745

Off Madagascar

Ria de Ponteverde carried guns. Most merchantmen did: carriage guns, with powder and shot, rammers and sponges, trucks and tackles. They differed from ships of the various royal navies only in the relatively small degree of their armament, as compared with the exclusive concentration upon artillery that marked out the man-o'-war.

And it wasn't just a broadside battery on the main deck. It was swivels on the gunwale and small arms in the lockers down below: muskets and pistols, pikes and cutlasses, and all the gear that went with them -- cartridges, flints, powder horns and small-grained pistol powder. All this was a fearful expense and a burden upon trade, for there was not one farthing's profit to be made by honest seamen in hauling defensive arms and ammunition across the seven seas.

Unfortunately there were others on the seas who were not honest seamen and whose business it was to become very rich, very quickly by selling cargoes without the bother of paying for them. Hence the need for guns, because sometimes -- indeed often -- these gentlemen could be seen off by force. Sometimes, but not always. And now, six miles off the Bahia de Bombetoka, a general slaughter was about to begin.

The Portuguese brig Ria de Ponteverde and the buccaneer Victory were locked yardarm to yardarm in a stinking cloud of powder smoke that barely shifted in the hot, tropical air. The brig was beaten. She was broken, bloodied, smashed and splintered; her helm was shot away, her sails in shreds and Victory's boarders were pouring over her sides.

A tall yellow-haired Englishman stood with his Portuguese mates by Ria de Ponteverde's mainmast among the shattered spars and dismounted guns, the silent dead and the howling wounded, as the boarders came through the smoke cheering and hacking and killing. Firearms boomed and jumped on either side. Right next to the Englishman, his captain, José Carmo Costa, took the flash and thunder of a blunderbuss at close range, blowing large parts of his heart, lungs and breastbone clear out through the back of his shirt.

Then it was cold steel, hand to hand, and no quarter asked or given.

The Englishman swung a cutlass with all his might. He was a big man: muscular, quick and agile with long limbs and not a scrap of fat on his body. The blow came down like the wrath of God and caught his first man -- fair, square and smack -- on top of the head.

The heavy blade clove to the teeth, slicing bone, brains, meat and gristle. Number one dropped twitching and shivering, and the blade jerked free with a disgusting schlik. Then a dozen men, jammed in ferocious fight, rolled into the Englishman and a bedlam of noise beat at his ears. Arms, blades and bludgeons worked busily all around, and instinctively he kicked and elbowed with enormous strength, clearing a fighting space around him and -- seizing the instant chance -- ran the point of his weapon into the middle of his second man, who yelped and twisted and tried to pull free. But the pirate stumbled and went over facedown, and the Englishman stamped a heel snapping and crunching into the base of his victim's spine while he leaned mightily on his sword arm, driving the blade through the wriggling body and into the planks of the deck, even as the dense press of combat knocked him clear, still gripping the slimy hilt.

He cut down number three with two strokes: the first shearing fingers, the second splitting a face. Four and five took just a single cut each, one to left and one to right; a tall black with rings in his ears and a squint-eyed barrel-chested fellow armed with a boarding pike.

Six was the hardest. He was a small man with a straw hat, striped breeches, quick feet and a straight-bladed sword honed to a wicked point, which he used to the exclusion of the edge. This man was a swordsman, which the Englishman was not -- he now had to learn or to die.

Sweat flew as he wrenched his cutlass to and fro, trying with sheer speed and force to overcome skill. Ssssk! The cutlass blade sliced a larynx without killing. Jab! Jab! Jab! The rapier missed twice then sank an inch into the Englishman's side before he beat it clear with a clash and a scrape of steel. Jab! Into his hip. Chunk! And the tip of the swordsman's elbow was off like the top of a breakfast egg. Jab! Into the Englishman's cheek. Swish! Through the straw hat, slicing away hair and a patch of scalp. Then a blur of light and the Englishman cut hard into the right side of the other's neck, sinking the blade through flesh, fat and marrow to within an inch of the left-hand side, almost but not quite taking the head clean off.

He gasped and shuddered as his man went down. He'd fought before, but only with his fists. It'd been just fights over girls or drink, or because a man had given offense. For that he'd drawn blood and cracked heads. He'd grown up in a hard school. But he'd never before fought with weapons and the serious intent to kill. In fact he'd never killed a man... except that now he had. He'd just killed six of them.

Now he looked around and saw that he was the last man standing of Ria de Ponteverde's crew. The others were either dead or dying or having their throats cut before his eyes by the buccaneers. The fight was over and the enemy ringed him, raising their weapons warily. There were no guns left loaded or they'd have shot him for sure. They'd won the fight, but they'd taken the measure of this fair-haired killer who stood head and shoulders taller than any of them, and they were being careful.

He spun on his heel, chest heaving and breath coming in deep gasps that left the taste of blood at the back of his throat. He screwed the sweat out of his eyes with his left hand and took a firmer grasp of the cutlass hilt. The edge was nicked like a saw, but it would still cut. They edged in closer all around him: angry faces, pike heads, swords, dirks and hatchets.

"Bastard!" said a voice. "You done for my mate."

"Skin him!" said another.

"Boil him!"

"Woodle him!"

"Burn him!"

"Come on then!" he roared. "Come one, come all!" His voice was high and cracked. It was near a shriek. He was in an uncanny state of mind: wound up tight with the blood of battle, heart thundering, nerves at hair-trigger. He was outnumbered beyond hope but still highly dangerous, and none of those around him sought the honor of being next to fight him.

"Aaah!" he cried, and stamped forward a pace.

"'Ware the bugger!" they shouted, and "Cuidado!" and "En garde!" They fell back, only to close in behind him. He slashed at a pikestaff thrust by a big-nosed fellow with lank black hair. He clashed blades with a hanger wielded by a bare-chested mulatto with a face scarred in a dozen fights. He spun round to catch a red-haired Irishman trying to spit him on the sly. Red-hair darted back, howling from a shoulder slashed to the bone and lucky it wasn't his skull.

"Henri!" cried a man in the front rank, yelling back over his shoulder and holding up an empty musket, "Apportes moi de la poudre et balle!" There was a swirl in the crowd and a cartridge was thrust into the Frenchman's hand.

"Aye!" they roared. "Drop the sod, Jean-Paul!"

"Je déchargerai la tête du con!" he muttered, and bit his cartridge, priming the pan and snapping down the steel. He grounded the butt, stuffed the rest of the cartridge into the muzzle, and drew out the ramrod to firm home the charge down the long barrel. The Englishman leapt forward, trying to cut down the musketeer before he could reload. But they'd thought of that. They were already clustered protectively around Jean-Paul, with pikes presented to keep him safe.

There was a rattling clatter of steel against ash, and the Englishman was driven back bleeding from a stab to his shin and another to his arm. Frustrated, hopeless and fearful, he watched Jean-Paul finish his loading, cock the musket and slowly take aim.

He saw the round, black muzzle come up and fix on him. He saw Jean-Paul's eye glinting over the breech, alongside the lock. He leapt to the right. The musket followed. He leapt to the left. It followed again. And behind Jean-Paul, others were busy loading. It was no good. Muskets were not renowned for accuracy, but Jean-Paul's was no more than ten feet from the Englishman's chest.

"Fuck you, you bastard!" he spat. Jean-Paul bowed extravagantly.

"Merci, monsieur," he said. "Et va te faire foutre!"

"Go to it, then!" said the Englishman. "And a curse on the pack of you!" He threw down his cutlass, spread out his arms and closed his eyes. At least it would be quick. Not like what they'd threatened.

Jean-Paul took up the slack on the trigger. He squeezed harder. The lock snapped. It sparked brightly. The gun roared. Three drachms of King George's best powder exploded, driving the heavy musket ball violently out of the barrel... to soar in a majestic parabola, higher than a cathedral steeple, and then to curve down into the sea, where it fizzed viciously for a few feet until its power was spent and then proceeded gently on its way down to the sea bed, where the fishes nosed it for a while and then ignored it.

"Belay there!" cried a loud voice, with all the confidence of command. Nathan England, duly elected captain of the buccaneers, had just knocked the barrel of Jean-Paul's musket skyward.

"I say we keep him!" he said, pointing his sword at Jean-Paul's target. "You there!" he said. "You can open your eyes... Ouvrez les yeux!... Entiendez?... Capisce?" England's crew were the dregs of half a dozen seafaring nations and he was used to making himself understood in whatever tongue suited.

The Englishman blinked. He stupidly ran his hands over his body to feel for a wound.

"Portugês?" said England. "Français? Español?"

"English, damn you!"

"Huh!" said England. "Rather bless me, you ungrateful bugger, for I've a mind to let you live. I'm several men adrift, courtesy of yourself, and I don't ...

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