Flood of Fire

by Amitav Ghosh

Part of the Ibis Trilogy Series

Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on Flood of Fire

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 difficult to know if this huge, sprawling novel would have quite the same appeal if you had not read the first two but I suspect you could probably dive into this as a complex historical adventure of India and China in the middle of the 19th century when the East India Company had great power.  It mostly revolves round opium.  Here four main characters relate the tale in different voices creating their own individual atmosphere, for the fans let me tell you they are Bhyro Singh’s secretary, his wife, his assistant and a soldier, Kesri Singh.  The story jumps from one strand to another for the first half of the book with some truly lovely cameo pieces, a joy.  It is also a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - the bestselling Ibis trilogy from the author of Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies - it is nothing short of a masterpiece.

The Ibis Trilogy:
1. Sea of Poppies
2. River of Smoke
3. Flood of Fire              

Sarah Broadhurst

Flood of Fire Synopsis

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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Flood of Fire Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.  You can read their full reviews by clicking here.

  • Alan Brown - 'A Dickens like classic. Deserves to be read by as many people as possible for years to come. The three books bring out the Opium Wars from the dusty shelves of history. Beautiful language.'
  • Angie Rhodes - 'The last book in the amazing heart stopping Ibis Trilogy.'
  • Janet Gilliard - 'was gripped from the start and really became immersed in the story and the characters. I learnt a lot about the colonial history of the East and was sad when I finished the last book. Highly recommended.'
  • Barbara Goldie - 'The final part of a great trilogy, absorbing read with great impact, stays with you long after the book is closed!'
  • Magdalena Vidgen - 'Although it was interesting from the historical point of view, I think it was the weakest part of the trilogy.'
  • Neil Beattie - 'Flood of Fire is a wonderful installment to the already thrilling Ibis saga. Full of historical detail and the colour of the different countries and cultures.'
  • Jan Kirkcaldy - 'it certainly brought life into a largely forgotten era.  Not an easy read but definitely an education.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'This is probably one of my favourite books in this trilogy...with laugh out loud moments these characters were impossible not to like.'
  • Anita Wallas - ' I was enthralled from start to finish. Flood of Fire is a giant of a book and a fitting conclusion to the truly astonishing Ibis trilogy.'

Flood of Fire Press Reviews

A masterpiece ... Flood of Fire is not just a work of literary imagination but also an exercise in deep and original historical reflection Chris Clark, author of Sleepwalkers For the past weeks, [Amitav Ghosh] has been holed up in his Goa home, putting the finishing touches to Flood of Fire, the third part of his epic Ibis trilogy. The project has taken a decade. The three novels, starting with Sea of Poppies ... have cemented his reputation Financial Times Totally absorbing Literary Review As ever for Mr Ghosh, language is a great tumasher, and it is not surprising that he is on the shortlist for the biennial Man Booker International Prize ... He swims with relish in a lexicon he has made his own, a rich brew of English, Bangla, Hindi, Parsi, Malay, Cantonese and pidgin at a time when free trade and imperialism were recombining Asian cultures and tongues ... Mr Ghosh's genius is to paint this world from its teeming heart, rather than from the perspective of metropolitan centres of power in London, or, for that matter, Peking The Economist It is a testimony to Ghosh's great skills that he can both teach us history and create believable fictional characters ... What makes Ghosh's characters come alive all the more is the use of language ... Ghosh, occasionally, translates, but often does not, yet pulls off this presentation of the medley of tongues his characters use with great aplomb -- Mihir Bose Independent The final instalment of an extraordinary trilogy ... Ghosh's story roars along, constantly flipping between high seriousness and low humour. It is simultaneously wrong-footing and delightful, riveting and diverting ... His expansive trilogy has, in fact, advanced his story by only a few years; but the ground it has covered is almost immeasurable Guardian Ghosh's scrupulous depiction of army life is just one part of this tour de force of historical description. Together, the novels are a weighty and precious chronicle of those times, a compendium of lost habits, languages and attitudes ... Flood of Fire has all the romance, subterfuge and ingenious plotting to keep Ghosh's audience firmly lagowed. But it is the integrity of his historical vision that will ensure his books outlast other literary dumbpokes FT Weekend The best bits of the trilogy, however, do not merely satirize the greed and hypocrisy of the foreign traders; but allow crosscurrents of sympathy ... full of unforgettable vignettes The Spectator A huge, sprawling, rumbustious novel ... rich and engrossing ... a splendid adventure story, full of rich and varied characters and romantic entanglements ... In the last chapters Amitav Ghosh pulls the strings of his enthralling trilogy together. It's a remarkable achievement: an adventure novel full of feeling, but one which also invites - even compels - you to think about the assumptions which men act upon Scotsman The star of the proceedings is the historical detail that really brings it all alive. Anyone who knows me knows my love of historical factoids and Amitav provides enough for us to luxuriate in them. The difference between the treatment of British and Indian soldiers, the colonial structure, the importance of China and the opium fields, not to mention the rituals surrounding taking opium - it's all here with much more besides, simultaneously entertaining and educating. I will definitely be going back to the beginning of the trilogy and look forward to catching up Bookbag Amply justifying the hype and expectation, this is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with great verve: Flood of Fire is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story, one of the greatest literary works of our time. For Amitav Ghosh, the glittering literary prizes beckon Nudge Book Graphic and gripping New Statesman A terrific read. I wish Amitav Ghosh could live forever, like Ganesh, the Hindu patron god of writers and complete what he once planned. Flood of Fire, alas, will have to do The Times If you fancy a rip-roaring story with history, an erudite critique of colonialism, funny and full of contemporary parallels, you could try Amitav Ghosh's third in his Ibis trilogy, Flood of Fire i Flood of Fire sweeps Amitav Ghosh majestically to the pinnacle of historical fiction writers and fittingly completes his Ibis trilogy ... Ghosh has long set a standard for the kind of fine historical fiction writing that paints perfect pictures of what life was like for ordinary people as the world changed around them at breakneck pace. What sets him apart from other writers in this genre is his knowledge of the subject and his detailed descriptions and minute detail Dundee Courier Unexpectedly comic Sunday Times Ghosh's ebullient fluency in the colorful argot of the contentious worlds he brings forth distinguishes this passionately researched series as much as his wily and zealous exposure of entrenched discrimination pertaining to race, religion, gender, caste, and class. Once again Ghosh proves himself to be a virtuoso scene-setter and action writer ... This feverishly detailed, vividly panoramic, tumultuous, funny, and heartbreaking tale offers a vigorous conclusion to Ghosh's astutely complex and profoundly resonant geopolitical saga Booklist A rip roaring story rich with history, an erudite critique of colonialism, funny and full of contemporary parallels Independent Sweeps Amitav Ghosh majestically to the pinnacle of historical fiction writers Oxford Times Exuberant Guardian This doorstopper of a novel, thick as curry with Anglo-Indian patois and with a bundle of rattlingly good narratives, makes one desperate that he does continue The Times, Books of the Year A rollicking wordfest that sprawls across land, sea, social class and ethnicities, sweeping us along in its narrative drive Guardian


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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780719569029
Publication date: 16/06/2016
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780719569005
Publication date: 28/05/2015
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780719569029
Publication date: 16th June 2016
Author: Amitav Ghosh
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 624 pages
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,
Categories: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),

About Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh was born in India and spent his childhood in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and northern India. He was educated in Delhi, Oxford and Egypt and has taught in a number of Indian and American universities. He is the author of a travel book and three novels. His work has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New Yorker, the Observer and the New York Times. He is married with two children and lives in New York.   Author photo © Dayanita Singh - Dream Villa Production

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