The thrilling climax to the Ibis trilogy that began with the phenomenal Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies.
It is 1839 and tension has been rapidly mounting between China and British India following the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. With no resolution in sight, the colonial government declares war.
One of the vessels requisitioned for the attack, the Hind, travels eastwards from Bengal to China, sailing into the midst of the First Opium War. The turbulent voyage brings together a diverse group of travellers, each with their own agenda to pursue. Among them is Kesri Singh, a sepoy in the East India Company who leads a company of Indian sepoys; Zachary Reid, an impoverished young sailor searching for his lost love, and Shireen Modi, a determined widow en route to China to reclaim her opium-trader husband's wealth and reputation. Flood of Fire follows a varied cast of characters from India to China, through the outbreak of the First Opium War and China's devastating defeat, to Britain's seizure of Hong Kong.
Flood of Fire is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve. It is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - it is nothing short of a masterpiece.A masterpiece
. . . Flood of Fire
is not just a work of literary imagination
but also an exercise in deep and original historical reflection
For the past weeks, [Amitav Ghosh] has been holed up in his Goa home, putting the finishing touches to Flood of Fire
, the third part of his epic Ibis
trilogy. The project has taken a decade. The three novels, starting with Sea of Poppies
. . . have cemented his reputationTotally absorbingAs ever for Mr Ghosh, language is a great tumasher
, and it is not surprising that he is on the shortlist for the biennial Man Booker International Prize
. . . He swims with relish in a lexicon he has made his own
, a rich brew of English, Bangla, Hindi, Parsi, Malay, Cantonese and pidgin at a time when free trade and imperialism were recombining Asian cultures and tongues . . . Mr Ghosh's genius is to paint this world from its teeming heart, rather than from the perspective of metropolitan centres of power in London, or, for that matter, PekingIt is a testimony to Ghosh's great skills that he can both teach us history and create believable fictional characters
. . . What makes Ghosh's characters come alive all the more is the use of language . . . Ghosh, occasionally, translates, but often does not, yet pulls off this presentation of the medley of tongues his characters use with great aplombThe final instalment of an extraordinary trilogy
. . .
Ghosh's story roars along, constantly flipping between high seriousness and low humour. It is simultaneously wrong-footing and delightful, riveting and diverting
. . .
His expansive trilogy has, in fact, advanced his story by only a few years; but the ground it has covered is almost immeasurable
Ghosh's scrupulous depiction of army life is just one part of this tour de force of historical description. Together, the novels are a weighty and precious chronicle of those times, a compendium of lost habits, languages and attitudes . . . Flood of Fire has all the romance, subterfuge and ingenious plotting to keep Ghosh's audience firmly lagowed
. But it is the integrity of his historical vision that will ensure his books outlast other literary dumbpokes
The best bits of the trilogy, however, do not merely satirize the greed and hypocrisy of the foreign traders; but allow crosscurrents of sympathy . . . full of unforgettable vignettesA huge, sprawling, rumbustious novel
. . . rich and engrossing . . . a splendid adventure story
, full of rich and varied characters and romantic entanglements . . . In the last chapters Amitav Ghosh pulls the strings of his enthralling trilogy together. It's a remarkable achievement
: an adventure novel full of feeling, but one which also invites - even compels - you to think about the assumptions which men act uponThe star of the proceedings is the historical detail that really brings it all alive
. Anyone who knows me knows my love of historical factoids and Amitav provides enough for us to luxuriate in them. The difference between the treatment of British and Indian soldiers, the colonial structure, the importance of China and the opium fields, not to mention the rituals surrounding taking opium - it's all here with much more besides, simultaneously entertaining and educating. I will definitely be going back to the beginning of the trilogy and look forward to catching upAmply justifying the hype and expectation
, this is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with great verve: Flood of Fire is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story, one of the greatest literary works of our time. For Amitav Ghosh, the glittering literary prizes beckonGraphic and grippingA terrific read
. I wish Amitav Ghosh could live forever
, like Ganesh, the Hindu patron god of writers and complete what he once planned. Flood of Fire
, alas, will have to doIf you fancy a rip-roaring story
with history, an erudite critique of colonialism
, funny and full of contemporary parallels
, you could try Amitav Ghosh's third in his Ibis
trilogy, Flood of FireFlood of Fire sweeps Amitav Ghosh majestically to the pinnacle of historical fiction writers and fittingly completes his Ibis trilogy
. . . Ghosh has long set a standard for the kind of fine historical fiction writing that paints perfect pictures of what life was like for ordinary people as the world changed around them at breakneck pace. What sets him apart from other writers in this genre is his knowledge of the subject and his detailed descriptions and minute detailUnexpectedly comicGhosh's ebullient fluency in the colorful argot of the contentious worlds he brings forth distinguishes this passionately researched series as much as his wily and zealous exposure of entrenched discrimination pertaining to race, religion, gender, caste, and class. Once again Ghosh proves himself to be a virtuoso scene-setter and action writer
. . . This feverishly detailed, vividly panoramic, tumultuous, funny, and heartbreaking tale offers a vigorous conclusion to Ghosh's astutely complex and profoundly resonant geopolitical sagaA rip roaring story
rich with history, an erudite critique of colonialism, funny and full of contemporary parallelsThe final book in the bestselling Ibis
trilogy from the author of Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies.
Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956. He grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford and published the first of eight novels, The Circle of Reason
in 1986. He currently divides his time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn. The first novel in the Ibis
trilogy, Sea of Poppies
, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize.The long-awaited final book in the epic Ibis
trilogyThe first book in the trilogy, Sea of Poppies
, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and went on to be a major bestseller. Flood of Fire
has the same prize-winning potentialThe perfect reading group book: a fascinating historical window into the opium wars, a wonderful page-turner with an exotic setting, universal themes and unusual talking pointsAmitav Ghosh is writing at the height of his powers - Flood of Fire
is full of wonderfully detailed descriptions, a captivating cast and enriched with a wealth of historical detail'A tremendous novel, and if Amitav Ghosh can sustain its brilliance in the two remaining parts, his Ibis
trilogy will surely come to be regarded as one of the masterpieces of twenty-first-century fiction' Literary Review
on Sea of Poppies