Flood of Fire, Hardback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


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.




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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

I loved the first two books in the Ibis trilogy and there is much to admire in this one, but I have to admit that I struggled at times to get through it.The positives first. It’s a brilliantly researched account of events leading up to the First Opium War, showing the perspectives of characters from around the world, in particular Britain, India and China. It gives anyone unfamiliar with events a great insight into the period and the places. It shows, in particular, the paradoxical position which the Indian participants find themselves in, invaluable to both camps, but not quite at home in either. Characters from the earlier books find themselves on opposite sides, for entirely intelligible reasons. The author raises important questions about ethnicity, identity and the rampant march of capital, which resonate today.Where I felt a little let down was in the storytelling. I missed the humour of the earlier books, and the inventiveness of the language as characters from different cultures and classes were thrown together. Some of the characters’ storylines felt a little soapy (particularly Zachary’s) and others, like Shireen, a bit prosaic. Other plot lines relied on coincidence. The battle scenes were very long and the amount of detail seemed to deaden rather than enhance the drama. It also felt like the author himself might have been overwhelmed by the amount of exposition. Neel’s narration in the early stages of the book takes the form of a journal, which is very dry and limiting as he writes mainly about the political and military situation. This is abruptly abandoned part way through and the author returns to a conventional third-person narration.It might be that the weight of expectation was too much. And I’m now familiar with the world of the trilogy that felt so vivid and fresh when I first encountered it. But for me this book didn’t have the magic of the first two.

Review by

The third of the Ibis trilogy, this is another thoroughly entertaining and satisfying novel. It has plenty of historical detail and continues the stories, and back stories, of characters that we met in the previous two installments. I've really enjoyed all three volumes.

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