Other Books in Series
This is book number 3 in the The Ibis Trilogy series.
River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh is the middle book in the Ibis trilogy about the opium trade. The first in the series, Sea of Poppies, is set in the 1830’s in India where the poppies are grown. Ghosh creates characters that make you believe their stories, want to learn more about them. Eventually the disparate group ends up on the Ibis. Flood of Fire is set during the Opium wars, concluding the trilogy. In River of Smoke the middle book of the trilogy, the Ibis battles through a tremendous storm, loosing several of its passengers who escape by faking their death in the sea. One of the escapees, Neel, is a Raja of India im-prisoned by the Brits. He is charismatic and articulate, but his life heretofore has been one of prestige and comfort. He is in a new world now, penniless and far from home. Bahram Modi is also out in the cyclone, aboard his luxurious ship Anahita. He is transporting the largest load of opium ever assembled to Canton, it will either make his fortune or ruin him. Bahram has another reason for making the perilous voyage, he has an illegitimate son, his only son, who has gone missing. Bahram hopes to learn his fate. The Redruth, a floating jungle, is also about in the storm. Its decks are a mass of green, plants lashed to and fro, here and there, with hardly space for the crew to walk. It is the property of Fredrick "Fitcher" Penrose, a botanist of some renown, pro-tégée of Sir Joseph Banks, and proprietor of a Cornish garden center. Penrose is traveling to Hong Kong and Canton to procure rare plants, his foliage filled cargo is intended for trade or sale to the Chinese making room for the plants he discovers in China to be transported back to Britain. Paulette, a French woman orphaned by the death of her father, also travels on the Ibis. Her fa-ther taught her botany, she will escape the Ibis and take a position aiding Penrose. I thoroughly enjoyed all the passages with Paulette and Penrose! All of the characters are fascinating, a pleasure to spend time with, but Paulette and Penrose with their botanizing adventures were a real treat. At the heart of this trilogy is the opium trade thrust on India and China by the British East India Company. River of Smoke is set in the days leading to the Opium Wars, when China decides to close its doors to importing opium, a move harshly resented by the British East India Company. Flood of Fire has just released and will take the characters forward into the Opium Wars. Amitav Ghosh uses real historic figures in his narrative, such as the Chinese Commissioner who shut down the profitable opium trade. Adventure, intrigue, the coming together of characters from vastly different backgrounds to create a compelling story are all present in this ambitious novel that is highly entertaining while also historically enlightening.— Deon Stonehouse
The stunningly vibrant final novel in the bestselling Ibis Trilogy
It is 1839 and China has embargoed the trade of opium, yet too much is at stake in the lucrative business and the British Foreign Secretary has ordered the colonial government in India to assemble an expeditionary force for an attack to reinstate the trade. Among those consigned is Kesri Singh, a soldier in the army of the East India Company. He makes his way eastward on the Hind, a transport ship that will carry him from Bengal to Hong Kong.
Along the way, many characters from the Ibis Trilogy come aboard, including Zachary Reid, a young American speculator in opium futures, and Shireen, the widow of an opium merchant whose mysterious death in China has compelled her to seek out his lost son. The Hind docks in Hong Kong just as war breaks out and opium "pours into the market like monsoon flood." From Bombay to Calcutta, from naval engagements to the decks of a hospital ship, among embezzlement, profiteering, and espionage, Amitav Ghosh charts a breathless course through the culminating moment of the British opium trade and vexed colonial history.
With all the verve of the first two novels in the trilogy, Flood of Fire completes Ghosh's unprecedented reenvisioning of the nineteenth-century war on drugs. With remarkable historic vision and a vibrant cast of characters, Ghosh brings the Opium Wars to bear on the contemporary moment with the storytelling that has charmed readers around the world.
About the Author
Amitav Ghosh is the internationally bestselling author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Glass Palace, and is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes. Ghosh divides his time between Kolkata and Goa, India, and Brooklyn, New York.
“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