Flood of Fire by Amitav Ghosh - review by John Thieme

John Thieme

World’s End

Flood of Fire


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Flood of Fire is the concluding part of Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy, a sprawling epic about the events leading up to the First Opium War. Like the first two parts of the trilogy, Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke, the novel’s canvas is vast, following the fortunes of a varied group of travellers who journey from Bengal to south China. It brings history alive by providing multiple perspectives on the origins and early stages of the war, particularly in its portrayal of events through the eyes of Indian and Indian-based characters. 

Foremost among the novel’s many characters are Kesri Singh, a sepoy in the Bengal Volunteers, whose regiment is part of the British expeditionary force; Shireen Modi, the widow of a Parsi opium trader, who breaks purdah to travel to China to claim compensation for her husband’s losses; and the mixed-race,

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