The novel begins with young boy Jim Hawkins becoming friends with and taking care of the ailing Billie Bones. The man is sought after by the crew members of the dead pirate Captain Flint, but died before he can give them what they want.
Hawkins goes through the sea chest looking for money to pay his hotel bill, but comes across the log of Captain Flint, which contains a map to buried treasure. Hawkins and his well-connected friends charter a ship under the command of Captain Smollet. The ship’s cook, Silver, helps to hire the crew and they embark on the journey.
Silver turns out to be a pirate and the remainder of the story is a tale of betrayal and the coming of age of young Jim Hawkins. What makes Silver a unique villain is that you can see a good man deep within him. He has become what his is through a lifetime of experiences, but he honestly likes Hawkins and sees him almost as a son. Unfortunately, he can’t get past his pirate tendencies and won’t let sentimentality come between him and treasure.
Hawkins ultimately decides the side of right and morality and, while disappointed, Silver respects him for it. He is glad that Hawkins won’t end up like him, but still would like to have him as a protégé.