For anyone who loves sailing and adventure, Arthur Ransome's classic Swallows and Amazons series stands alone. Originally published over a half-century ago, the twelve books are still eagerly read by children and adults alike - by all those captivated by the world of adventure and imagination. Such longevity is not only due to Ransome's unparalleled gift of storytelling, but also his championing of qualities such as independence and initiative; virtues that appeal to every generation, whether young or old. The third book in Arthur Ransome's wonderful series, Peter Duck takes intrepid explorers John, Susan, Titty and Roger Walker, and fearsome Amazon pirates Nancy and Peggy Blackett, onto the high seas. Under the command of the infamous Captain Flint (Nancy and Peggy's Uncle Jim), the children brave a real-life pirate and his cutthroat crew, fog, sharks, and the ravenous crabs of Crab Island in the search for buried treasure.
Arthur Ransome was a prolific writer of children's books. Born in Leeds in 1884, it was his father, a nature-loving history professor, who inspired his love of the outdoors and nurtured a passion for fishing. As a child he enjoyed active, outdoor holidays: sailing, camping and exploring the countryside. He used many of these holiday settings for his children's stories, notably the much-loved Swallows and Amazons, a book that sits comfortably in the category of 'timeless classic'. In 1936 he won the first ever Carnegie Medal for the sixth book in the Swallows and Amazons series, Pigeon Post.
©2013 Aurthr Ransome (P)2013 Audible Ltd
“Thrilling not only to young readers fond of the sea, but also to older readers who remember how they enjoyed sea stories when they themselves were young” (The Scotsman)
“All the thrills of Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe" (Daily Telegraph)
“Absolutely fantastic” (Daily Express)
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"Charming childhood adventure on the high seas"
It is with great pleasure that I am revisiting the Swallows and Amazons series I first enjoyed as a child.
This, the third in the series, is the first with any sense of real peril, though of course the bad things only happen to the secondary characters. Susan is dependable and sensible as expected (oh to be excited by the gift of a first aid box as a Christmas Present), and all the characters remain true to form.
I liked the addition of extra characters of Peter Duck and Bill, and an actual sea voyage and buried pirate treasure! Wonderful stuff!
Of course the adult me wonders slightly at the plot - would the Swallow's crew's mother really have let them disappear with Captain Flint and the Amazons for weeks on end without knowing where in the world they'd gone? Would the children really have escaped unharmed from the happenings on the island?
But then I remember it's a book written for children from a completely different time, and allow my sense of disbelief to settle back into its state of suspension.
My top tips for maximum enjoyment of this series - read them in order, and don't overthink them!
"I was completely absorbed by this story"
I read the Swallows and Amazons books when I was a young teenager and the characters have lived with me ever since. Now almost 30 years later I'm listening to the series again via Audible, I was completely absorbed by this story, the delivery by Gareth Armstrong is perfect. I have read criticism that his voices don't match the ones you imagine and that is always a risk with audio books but for me the voices were fine and differentiated the characters enough to make the story very easy to follow.
Adventure on the high seas, Swallows and Amazons forever!
"A lovely story"
I really enjoy Arthur Ransome and have read the books since I was young. When Audible made the audio books available I was delighted. However the voices I have created for the characters in my own head are so firmly established that I found the narrators voice didn't work for me at all. I understand that Gareth Armstrong needed to create different accents to seperate the chracters but really Nancy and Peggy with an "eccky thump" accent! The girls were both privately educated and brought up in an upper middle class houshold.
I think maybe I will stick with books (now on my reader) and the characters will sound as I want them to sound.
"Story within a story"
I never enjoyed the print version of this book, so it was with reservations that I decided to listen to it. I'd say it it's definitely better to listen to this one.
Treasure Island - although I've not read that all the way through. However the references are clear enough. As I mentioned in the title to this review, Peter Duck is a story made up by the Swallows and Amazons during the winter immediately after the events in Swallows and Amazons. According to Swallowdale, the Swallows, Amazons and Captain Flint spend the holidays in a wherry in Norfolk, and every evening they continue with their story of going to the Caribbean to hunt for pirate treasure, pursued along the way by more villains. In their story they are accompanied by Peter Duck, an elderly seaman, and Bill, a young boy - as far as I can remember both these characters are entirely fictional to the Swallows and Amazons, not based on anyone they met in Norfolk.
I say all that because if you aren't clear on where Peter Duck fits (I wasn't as a child) then it can be harder to enjoy it. Especially if you aren't into books like Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe etc. In summary: Peter Duck was published third, after Swallowdale, but chronologically it comes immediately after Swallows and Amazons. In future I will always listen to Peter Duck second, as it makes more sense to me like that; however, if you're new to the series I suggest you listen in order of publication.
Difficult question as Armstrong is really comfortable with the characters now and does them all well....I think his Mr Duck took the award though.
"Beware of the Viper" or something equally lame! I'm not good at taglines! Incidentally, someone should make films of all these books. Swallows and Amazons, Coot Club and The Big Six have been done already, but that still leaves 9....Peter Duck would be an especially good place to start.
Once I suspended reality, this book was thoroughly exciting. I really enjoyed it. Don't miss it out, as I always used to when I was a child! Little warning though, if you're buying for a child: it's slightly scary in places, so could be frightening to a young child.
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