Way of the Kings, Paperback

Way of the Kings Paperback

Part of the Hesperus Modern Voices S. series

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Claude and Perken meet on a liner heading for Indo-China, and throw in their lots together to form a dual expedition into the perilous Cambodian jungles of the 'Way of the Kings'.

Claude, a young Frenchman, is seeking adventure, fame, and money; Perken, an experienced Dutch explorer, is returning to his own little patch of Siam, aiming to recapture his former masculine pride, and appalled by the coming of age and its effects.

The two face death at every turn from the seething forest and 'bestial' tribes people, but are driven to leave their stamp on a world on the eve of its demise, in defiance of the advance of the railroad and 'civilisation', and the term of their own fragile lives. 'For me, this novel is a passionate invocation to live every second. However, I take it simultaneously as a warning of the desperate consequences, both personal and global, of being so 'furiously alive'.' From the Foreword by Rachel Seiffert




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Although not as good as <i>Man's Fate</i> this is still a worthwhile read. Malraux's tale of a couple of European adventurers venturing into the Indochinese jungle for their different motives has many positives. The author's existential musings remain an interesting read and his use of language is again excellent. His description of the Asiatic environment and its affect on outsiders does not suffer too badly when, inevitably, compared with the Conrad's <i>Heart of Darkness</i>.It's not all good though. The author's vague distain for the natives is a little out of date, though the colonial authorities all get a small amount of stick too (mostly for impeding our characters attempt to raid the country of its archaelogical treasures). Malraux's language also sometimes gets away from himself and the sentences that run into nowhere and jarring shifts in perception don't always make it an easy read.The end result is a middling book that even if it's not as original or powerful as <i>Heart of Darkness</i> is a sort of worthwhile companion piece. Good, not great.

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