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

First edition: 1955
Publisher: Macmillan
Illustrator: Stuart Tresilian
Category: Adventure Series
Genre: Mystery/Adventure
Type: Novels/Novelettes

On This Page...

Reprint Covers
Review by Anita Bensoussane
Further Illustrations


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

1st German edition published by Erika Klopp Verlag in 1956,
illustrated by Walter Born

Cover picture from Chucklers' Weekly, May 9th 1958, illustrated by Monty Wedd

Internal picture from Chucklers' Weekly, May 9th 1958

Internal picture from Chucklers' Weekly, August 15th 1958
Foreign Titles
German: Der Fluß der Abenteuer
French: Le Mystère de la Rivière Noire (Arthur & Cie sur la Rivière Noire)
Dutch: De rivier van avontuur
Spanish: Aventura en el Rio
Portuguese: A Aventura no Rio
Swedish: Aventyrens Flod
Finnish: Seikkailujen Joki
Malaysian: Pengembaraan Menyusuri Sungai
Indonesian: Petulangan Di Sungai Ajaib

Brief Summary by Courtenay Rule: When their friend and step-father Bill needs to go undercover in the Middle East for his police work, it's the beginning of another adventure for Philip, Dinah, Jack and Lucy-Ann. A boat-trip along the River of Abencha — soon to be renamed the River of Adventure! — leaves the four children unexpectedly on their own with Tala the boatman and the loyal young servant-boy, Oola, as the river takes them in pursuit of a dangerous criminal. What are the villain and his gang seeking in the remote reaches of the river, and can the children bring him to justice at last?

Full Review (This may contain spoilers):

Anita Bensoussane's Review
Like The Sea of Adventure, this book begins with Jack, Philip, Dinah and Lucy-Ann unable to return to school at the start of term because of illness. They are in convalescence after having influenza and the Doctor has advised Mrs Mannering that they should go away on holiday for a while. When Bill is suddenly called away to keep an eye on a man called Raya Uma, of whom the Government are suspicious, he suggests taking his wife and the children with him and posing as a family man.

The six of them fly to an unspecified Middle Eastern location, "some way from the borders of Syria," where they set off on a river-trip on a small motor-launch driven by a native named Tala. The river is called the River of Abencha, leading Philip to dub it the River of Adventure. As they travel, Bill stops at various towns to make enquiries about Raya Uma and report back to headquarters. He knows that, in the past, Raya Uma has been involved with gun-running, spying and smuggling, but no-one seems certain what he is up to now.

The voyage along the river is peaceful at first and the children enjoy looking at the people, animals and birds around them, which remind them of pictures from a children's Bible. Some of Blyton's descriptions are beautiful, though concise as ever: "The darkness came suddenly, as it always does in southern countries. Stars shone out, large and mysterious and very very bright. The river turned black and silver, and held as many stars as were in the sky."

Bill is dumbfounded when they come one night to Sinny-Town, "A city of lights and noise," which is not marked on his map at all. Only when morning comes does he realise that the city is a film-set (Cine-Town), and that most of the buildings consist of false fronts. It is at Cine-Town that the children watch a snake-charmer and Philip becomes angry when he notices that the poor snakes — poisonous barguas — have had their mouths sewn up. A little later, Philip and the others save the snake-charmer's boy attendant, Oola, from being beaten by his master and Oola makes his way to the children's launch that night. He is determined to work for Philip, whom he addresses as "lord," and Bill finally gives him permission to stay and work with Tala. Oola presents Philip with a bargua which has had its poison-ducts cut. Philip knows that is cruel as it means that the snake will die within a few weeks, but he agrees to look after it in the meantime.

To Bill's surprise, Raya Uma himself turns up at their launch one night for a chat. Raya Uma tells Bill that he makes money in Cine-Town, through his interest in films, and uses the money to pursue his chief interest, which is archaeology. It is obvious that he has heard that Bill has been inquiring about him.

The next evening, Bill and Allie are kidnapped by Raya Uma, whose men also take the launch. Tala overheard the men talking about Wooti, so Tala, Oola and the children head there in the men's boat. However, they miss Wooti and continue travelling along the river to where it narrows and becomes a fast-flowing gorge. The boat is swept by the river towards a roaring cataract — a "gigantic underground waterfall" as Jack describes it — and the children are terrified of being dashed to pieces. Luckily, Tala manages to swing the boat sideways into a cavern in the cliff, saving all their lives.

The children follow tunnels leading out of the cavern and stumble eventually upon the underground remains of a magnificent temple dating from about seven thousand years ago. The temple was erected in honour of a goddess, and kings and noblemen brought treasures there for generations. Many items have perished but the glorious treasures that remain include gold statues, bowls, combs, jewellery, ornaments and daggers — rather like the treasures discovered in The Ship of Adventure. In fact it turns out that, like Mr Eppy in The Ship of Adventure, Raya Uma is interested in locating priceless treasures and keeping them for himself. He has been searching for the temple and has almost reached his goal, which is why he had Bill and Allie kidnapped as he wanted them out of the way.

When Jack and the others come face to face with Raya Uma and his men, the men try to imprison the children underground but are driven back by the sight of Philip's snake, which they believe to be poisonous. The children climb two shafts and reach daylight at last, only for Raya Uma to beg them to take him to hospital as he has been bitten by Philip's bargua. Of course, the children take him not to a hospital but to a police station in Cine-Town, rescuing Bill and Allie — and their motor-launch — from Wooti on the way.

Bill is proud of the children for what they have done, emphasising that ancient and fascinating items like those found in the temple belong not to any individual, but to the whole world.

By the way, this book was published in 1955, a couple of years after the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It's noticeable that clever Kiki now says "God save the Queen," instead of "God save the King."

The ending of the book, which is the final title in the series, is fitting as we catch a glimpse of the four children as young adults. Mrs Cunningham says that the treasure-filled temple will be excavated over the next five or six years and Philip promises Oola, who, with his qualities of loyalty and courage, has been "as astonishing a find as any of the treasures in the temple," that they will return in a few years to see how he is getting on and to view the treasures when they have been put on display. By then the children will all be in their late teens or early twenties and are likely to be working, studying or travelling. I like to imagine that Jack will be an ornithologist, making a name for himself with his photographs of birds, Philip will be working with animals and all four will retain a love of travel, a respect for nature and — above all — a spirit of adventure! These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.