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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.
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Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. He studied at the universities of Delhi and Oxford, and published the first of seven 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.Review:
“Ghosh imbues his narrative with historical sweep and the lavish sights and sounds of southern Asia, beautifully dramatizing the rise of Hong Kong and the strained legacy of European colonialism.” ―O: The Oprah Magazine
“[Flood of Fire] brims with wonderful historical details, clearly the result of prodigious research. . . . Ghosh has so much passion for his subject, so much care for his characters and such a command of his prose that readers will find it easy to surrender to the story.” ―Laila Lalami, The New York Times Book Review
“Flood of Fire is, for my money, the best of the three volumes: It adds colorful threads to the plot, weaving them into the existing story and tying them off in a most satisfactory way. Further, the novel provides highly dramatic depictions of key land and sea battles of the First Opium War. Beyond that, it presents a savvy account of the influence of the opium lobby on British foreign policy and the mental contortions of the "Apostles of Liberty" who identified the diabolical trade, so destructive of the people of both India and China, with freedom, commercial righteousness and religious enlightenment - all virtuously bestowed with guns and gunboats.” ―Katherine A. Powers, Chicago Tribune
“[Combines] a historian's affection for the archive with an anthropologist's appreciation of the thickness of local realities and a novelist's gift for plot, character, and language . . . Ghosh fashions a history that seems always on the move, vibrantly and restlessly progressing toward its conclusion.” ―Bookforum
“A writer of uncommon talent who combines literary flair with a rare seriousness of purpose . . . His descriptions bring a lost world to life.” ―The Washington Post Book World
“Dashing . . . This novel unfolds like those paper landscapes that expand under water: Each character, each situation, expands into its own world. All are woven into a four-dimensional tapestry depicting the explosive force of cultural exchange driven by the immense wealth to be derived from unchained desire.” ―Ann Klefstad,Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The [Ibis Trilogy] books are not only operatic-big personalities, lots of drama-but a compelling and vividly imagined chronicling of the height of British colonialism, and the development of modern Asia.” ―Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life, Harper's Bazaar
“A writer of supreme skill and intelligence.” ―The Atlantic Monthly
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