The Enid Blyton Society
The Ship of Adventure
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Book Details...

First edition: 1950
Publisher: Macmillan
Illustrator: Stuart Tresilian
Category: Adventure Series
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Artwork
Review by Anita Bensoussane
Further Illustrations

Reprints


Wraparound dustwrapper from the 1st edition, illustrated by Stuart Tresilian



Wraparound dustwrapper from the Thames reprint, illustrated by Stuart Tresilian



1st German edition published by Erika Klopp Verlag in 1952,
illustrated by Walter Born
Foreign Titles
German: Das Schiff der Abenteuer
French: Arthur & Cie et le Vaisseau Perdu
Dutch: Het schip van avontuur
Spanish: Aventura en el Barco
Portuguese: A Aventura no Barco
Swedish: Aventyrens Skepp
Finnish: Seikkailujen Laiva
Malaysian: Pengembaraan Di Kapal
Indonesian: Petulangan Di Kapal Pesiar


*Warning: This review contains spoilers.*

In The Ship of Adventure, Philip, Jack, Dinah and Lucy-Ann go on a cruise on The Viking Star with Mrs Mannering. Although he is on holiday from work, Bill has not been invited because Mrs Mannering feels that, with him around, the children would be bound to fall into a hair-raising adventure. The ship is to call at Portugal, Madeira, French Morocco, Spain, Italy and the Aegean Islands — rather like the cruise Enid Blyton herself went on in 1930. True to form, Philip soon acquires a pet monkey, Micky, rescuing the poor animal from a town in French Morocco where children were throwing stones at it. Philip cannot understand such cruelty, which he acknowledges he has also seen in Britain: "How those children could stone a little thing like this beats me. But I suppose in every country there are cruel and unkind people — after all, we've seen boys in our country throwing stones at a cat!"

A boy named Lucian embarks at Naples and, somewhat unfairly it seems to me, the children take an instant dislike to him, with Jack saying unkindly: "... here comes Brer Rabbit!" and Philip exclaiming: "What a weed!" Lucian is a tall, gangling boy of almost fifteen, with protruding teeth, round glasses and a chin that slopes backwards. He wears an "amiable grin" on his face and has a habit of repeating "Oh, I say ..." (but then don't all Blyton characters say that phrase a lot?!) He reminds me of Horace Tipperlong in The Sea of Adventure — another weedy, goofy character.

Lucian, who is half-Greek, has no parents and lives during the school holidays with his uncle and aunt, who have brought him on the cruise. His aunt is "a languid-looking lady" while his uncle, Mr Eppy, has a sinister appearance because of his dark sunglasses, which hide his eyes. Mr Eppy is interested in history and likes to buy islands, explore them and then sell them on.

Lucian relates to Jack and the others the tale of the Andra treasure, which was hidden on a Greek island long ago and has never been found. This story captures the children's imagination and, when Lucy-Ann buys an old ship in a bottle for Philip's birthday, she is pleased to see that the ship inside is called the Andra.

It is when Micky breaks the bottle that the children discover a piece of parchment concealed in the little carved wooden ship. The parchment is a map of an island, with a plan showing passages. There are words in Greek and, when the children recognise the word "Andra" at the top, they come to the conclusion that the map must show the whereabouts of the Andra treasure!

Not being able to read Greek is a major drawback — as Jack says: "...we may be the only ones in the world that know this secret — but it's all Greek to us!" They resolve to have the map translated but, in the process, Mr Eppy gets to know of it and, once he has worked out that the map shows the island of Thamis, he leaves the Viking Star and makes his way there.

Jack and the others feel frustrated and disappointed. Then Mrs Mannering is called away to Aunt Polly, who is ill, and Bill arrives to take care of the children. When the Viking Star suffers from engine trouble, and has to dock at an island for several days, Bill agrees to take the children to Thamis. First, he has the map examined by an expert, who has it re-drawn with the Greek words in English. The signs pointing the way to the treasure sound exciting — Two-Fingers, Goddess, Bird, Bell, Labyrinth and Catacombs. There are shades of The Valley of Adventure here, especially when the children reach Thamis to find that what was once the main town is now deserted and in ruins.

The treasure-hunt is not as straightforward as it appeared on the map and the children and Bill become lost in a maze of underground passages at one point. When they eventually find it, the treasure exceeds all expectations — there are mouldering barrels, boxes and chests full of jewellery, vases, daggers, suits of armour, ornaments, drinking-cups and bowls. However, Mr Eppy is also on the trail and all seems lost when he captures Bill and the others and goes after the treasure himself.

With the help of Lucian, who finds a little pluck from somewhere and works with the children rather than with his uncle, all ends well and Mr Eppy's attempt to remove the treasure is thwarted.

Bill still has to face Mrs Mannering, having failed in his promise not to lead the children into adventure. She says sadly that she will never trust him again but Lucy-Ann saves the day, suggesting that Bill and Mrs Mannering get married so that Mrs Mannering will be able to keep an eye on both him and the children. Feigning surprise at the idea, Bill and Allie agree. Hardly a romantic proposal — but a fitting end to a book which Blyton originally intended to be the final book of the series. These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.