Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy

Fans of Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy have been waiting 4 years for the third novel.  Finally, this year, Flood of Fire has been published.  The highly acclaimed trilogy is set in the early 19th century and follows the fates of those who met aboard the ship Ibis during the opium trade between India and China by the Dutch East India Company just before the outbreak of the opium wars.

These historical novels are recommended reading for some comparative literature courses and they have received recognition with Sea of Poppies being shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker prize and River of Smoke shortlisted for the 2011 Man Asian Literary prize.  Some critics have noted the great detail that Ghosh has included in these novels which have translated into a transportation into those times like no other.

“In historical novels the past can sometimes feel tamed; hindsight, hovering just off the page, tells us that we know what it all added up to and what came of it (the First Opium War, during which British gunboats enforced a treaty opening Chinese ports to international trade, comes shortly after the ending of this novel). But Ghosh’s novels somehow succeed in taking us back inside the chaos of when “then” was “now”. His grasp of the detail of the period is exhaustive – he is so thoroughly submerged in it – that readers can’t possibly remember all the things he shows them, or hold on to all the life-stories of all the characters he introduces. Both novels are cabinets of curiosities, crowded with items that hold a story of their own.”  Tessa Hadley’s Guardian review of River of Smoke

The publication of Flood of Fire marks the end of the Ibis Trilogy so, if you haven’t yet read any of these novels, now is the perfect time to embark upon a journey through Ghosh’s fantastic historical expedition through time.

Sea of Poppies (Ibis 1) by Amitav Ghosh

sea of poppies ibis trilogy 1 amitav ghosh“At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton.” (GoodReads)


River of Smoke (Ibis 2) by Amitav Ghosh

river of smoke  ibis trilogy 2 amitav ghosh“In September 1838, a storm blows up on the Indian Ocean and the Ibis, a ship carrying a consignment of convicts and indentured laborers from Calcutta to Mauritius, is caught up in the whirlwind. River of Smoke follows its storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbors of China. There, despite efforts of the emperor to stop them, ships from Europe and India exchange their cargoes of opium for boxes tea, silk, porcelain and silver. Among them are Bahram Modi, a wealthy Parsi opium merchant out of Bombay, his estranged half-Chinese son Ah Fatt, the orphaned Paulette and a motley collection of others whose pursuit of romance, riches and a legendary rare flower have thrown together. All struggle to cope with their losses—and for some, unimaginable freedoms—in the alleys and crowded waterways of 19th-century Canton.” (GoodReads)


Flood of Fire (Ibis 3) by Amitav Ghosh

flood of fire  ibis trilogy 3 amitav ghosh“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.” (GoodReads)

Have you read any of the Ibis novels?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Terry Pratchett & the Discworld Series

150312152121-terry-pratchett-exlarge-169Yesterday we received the sad news of Terry Pratchett’s passing.  Pratchett is a beloved fantasy writer best known for his Discworld series.  He has been honoured with an OBE and many literary awards for his work.  His books have sold upward of 85 million copies and have been translated into 37 languages.  His popularity is rivalled only by that of J K Rowling in the fantasy world.  Pratchett has listed JRR Tolkein, Robert E Howard, H P Lovecraft, and William Shakespeare as inspiration as well as mythology, folklore, and fairytales.pratchett the end tweet

The Discworld series is 40 books strong with the very first one, The Colour of Magic, published in 1983.  Since then Pratchett has written about two Discworld books per year.  The 41st book was due out later this year.  Fans of Pratchett may be wondering if this is the end of the Discworld series and while it seems that may be true I have read in a New Statesman article from 2012 that Pratchett was happy to have his only daughter, Rihanna Pratchett, carry on the series.

“the Discworld is safe in my daughter’s hands”

Whether fans will be happy about this or not, I have no idea.  However, the end of the Discworld series remains to be seen.  Many, including myself, have not yet read the series.  Pratchett is known to have had a good sense of humour and his fantasy series reflects this.  It is a comical and satirical series often including parallels with current cultural, political, and scientific issues.

I have included the full book list of the Discworld series to guide you on your Discworld journey should you wish to embark upon it.  Many of the Discworld books are also part of sub series which I have included in brackets after the publication date.

The Discworld Series:

1          The Colour of Magic [1983]    (Rincewind #1)

2          The Light Fantastic [1986]    (Rincewind #2)

3          Equal Rites [1987]    (Witches #1)

From BuzzFeed’s 26 Discworld Quotes About Life, The Universe, And Everything

4          Mort [1987]    (Death #1)

5          Sourcery [1988]    (Rincewind #3)

6          Wyrd Sisters [1988]    (Witches #2)

7          Pyramids [1989]

8          Guards! Guards! [1989]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #1)

9          Eric [1990]    (Rincewind #4)

10        Moving Pictures [1990]

11        Reaper Man [1991]    (Death #2)

12        Witches Abroad [1991]    (Witches #3)

13        Small Gods [1992]

14        Lords and Ladies [1992]    (Witches #4)

15        Men at Arms [1993]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #2)

16        Soul Music [1994]    (Death #3)

17        Interesting Times [1994]    (Rincewind #5)

18        Maskerade [1995]    (Witches #5)

19        Feet of Clay [1996]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #3)

20        Hogfather [1996]    (Death #4)

From BuzzFeed’s 26 Discworld Quotes About Life, The Universe, And Everything

21        Jingo [1997]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #4)

22        The Last Continent [1998]    (Rincewind #6)

23        Carpe Jugulum [1998]    (Witches #6)

24        The Fifth Elephant [1999]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #5)

25        The Truth [2000]

26        Thief of Time [2001]    (Death #5)

27        The Last Hero [2001]    (Rincewind #7)

28        The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents [2001]

29        Night Watch [2002]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #6)

30        The Wee Free Men [2003]    (Tiffany Aching #1)

31        Monstrous Regiment [2003]

32        A Hat Full of Sky [2004]    (Tiffany Aching #2)

33        Going Postal [2004]

34        Thud! [2005]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #7)

35        Wintersmith [2006]    (Tiffany Aching #3)

36        Making Money [2007]

37        Unseen Academicals [2009]    (Rincewind #8)

38        I Shall Wear Midnight [2010]    (Tiffany Aching #4)

39        Snuff [2011]    (Ankh-Morpork City Watch #8)

40        Raising Steam [2013]

41        The Shepard’s Crown [2015?]    (Tiffany Aching #5)

A Guide to Reading Wilbur Smith’s Series

Wilbur Smith is a best-selling author with four series of wonderful novels.  He was born in Kabwe, Zambia in 1933 and went to university in South Africa.  His novels span centuries and follow different people and families on the African continent.  He has also written a number of stand alone novels so don’t miss out on those.

The Courtney Series

The Courtney Novels are a series of fourteen novels published between 1964 and 2015. They chronicle the lives of the Courtney family from the 1860s to 1987. The novels can be split into three parts; the original trilogy of novels follow the twins Sean and Garrick Courtney from the 1860s until 1925; the second part is five books which follow Centaine de Thiry Courtney, her sons, and grandchildren between 1917 and 1987; and the third part, the most recently written, follows the Courtney family from the 1660s until 1918, focusing on successive generations of the family. This is the suggested reading order based on time period covered not publication date.

    1. Birds of Prey  – 1660s
    2. The Golden Lion – 1670s
    3. Monsoon – 1690s
    4. Blue Horizon  – 1730s
    5. When the Lion Feeds – 1860s-1890s
    6. Triumph of the Sun – 1880s
    7. The Sound of Thunder – 1899-1906
    8. Assegai – 1906-1918
    9. The Burning Shore – 1917-1920
    10. A Sparrow Falls – 1918-1925
    11. Power of the Sword – 1931-1948
    12. Rage – 1950s & 1960s
    13. Golden Fox – 1969-1979
    14. A Time To Die – 1987

For those of you reading the Courtney series here is a family tree diagram created by Dennis Wheeler for Wikipedia:


 The Ballantyne Series

The Ballantyne Novels are a series of five novels published between 1980 and 1992. They chronicle the lives of the Ballantyne family, from the 1860s through until 1980’s against a background of Rhodesian history (now Zimbabwe). A fifth novel published in 2005 seeks to combine the Ballantyne narrative with that of Smith’s other family saga, The Courtney novels.

  1. A Falcon Flies – 1860
  2. Men of Men – 1870s-1890s
  3. The Angels Weep – 1st part 1890s, 2nd part 1977
  4. The Leopard Hunts in Darkness – 1980s
  5. The Triumph of the Sun – 1884

The Egyptian Series

A historical fiction series of six novels published between 1993 and 2016 based in a large part on Pharaoh Memnon’s time along with his story and that of his mother Lostris through the eyes of his mother’s slave Taita mixing in elements of the Hyksos’ domination and eventual overthrow.

  1. River God (1993)
  2. The Seventh Scroll (1995)
  3. Warlock (1995)
  4. The Quest (2007)
  5. Desert God (2014)
  6. Pharaoh (2016)

The Hector Cross Series

A series following the adventures of Hector Cross of Cross Bow Security.

  1. Those in Peril (2011)
  2. Vicious Circle (2013)
  3. Predator (2016)


A Guide to Reading David Eddings’ Fantasy Series

David Eddings is a very famous American writer of high fantasy with a number of series under his belt.  Many of his books were written together with his wife, Leigh Eddings.  If you are planning to read Eddings for the first time here is the info to help you navigate reading the series in the best order accompanied by some nice maps.

A1 – Prequels to Belgariad & Malloreon:

  1. Belgarath the Sorcerer (1995)
  2. Polgara the Sorceress (1997)
  3. The Rivan Codex (1998)Belgariad & Malloreon Map david eddings

A2 – The Belgariad

  1. Pawn of Prophecy (1982)
  2. Queen of Sorcery (1982)
  3. Magician’s Gambit (1983)
  4. Castle of Wizardry (1984)
  5. Enchanters’ End Game (1984)

A3 – The Malloreon (sequel to the Belgariad)

  1. Guardians of the West (1987)
  2. King of the Murgos (1988)
  3. Demon Lord of Karanda (1988)Elenium Map david eddings
  4. Sorceress of Darshiva (1989)
  5. The Seeress of Kell (1991)

B1 – The Elenium 

  1. The Diamond Throne (1989)
  2. The Ruby Knight (1990)
  3. The Sapphire Rose (1991)Tamuli Map david eddings

B2 – The Tamuli (sequel to the Elenium)

  1. Domes of Fire (1992)
  2. The Shining Ones (1993)
  3. The Hidden City (1994)

C1 – The Dreamers

Dreamers Map david eddings

  1. The Elder Gods (2003)
  2. The Treasured One (2004)
  3. Crystal Gorge (2005)
  4. The Younger Gods (2006)

Eddings’ books were firm favourites in my house when I was growing up.  I haven’t read them yet myself but hopefully I’ll get to them in the near future.  Have you read any of these books?  Share your thoughts.



A Guide to Reading Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series

Terry Brooks is most famous for his Shannara Series of fantasy fiction.  For those of you interested in embarking on the Shannara journey, here is a guide to reading the series in chronological order.

1. Word and Void Series
1 – Running with the Demon (1997)
2 – A Knight of the Word (1998)
3 – Angel Fire East (1999)

2. Genesis of Shannara Series
1 – Armageddon’s Children (2006)
2 – The Elves of Cintra (2007)
3 – The Gypsy Morph (2008)

3. Legends of Shannara Series
1 – Bearers of the Black Staff (2010)
2 – The Measure of the Magic (2011)

4. Paladins of Shannara Series
1 – Allanon’s Quest (2012)
2 – The Weapons Master’s Choice (2013)
3 – The Black Irix (2013)

5. Original Shannara Series
1 – The Sword of Shannara (1977)
2 – The Elfstones of Shannara (1982)
3 – The Wishsong of Shannara (1985)

6. Heritage of Shannara Series
1 – The Scions of Shannara (1990)
2 – The Druid of Shannara (1991)
3 – The Elf Queen of Shannara (1992)
4 – The Talismans of Shannara (1993)

7. Voyage of the Jerle Shannara Series
1 – Ilse Witch (2000)
2 – Antrax (2001)
3 – Morgawr (2002)

8. High Druid of Shannara Series
1 – Jarka Ruus (2003)
2 – Tanequil (2004)
3 – Straken (2005)

9. The Dark Legacy of Shannara Series
1 – Wards of Faerie (2012)
2 – Bloodfire Quest (2013)
3 – Witch Wraith (2013)

10. Defenders of Shannara Series
1 – The High Druid’s Blade (2014)
2 – The Darkling Child (2015)
3 – The Sorcerer’s Daughter (2016)


I’ve shared with you the chronological order of the Shannara books but if you are interested you can also follow Brooks’ suggested order for new readers to the series.


Game of Thrones – Another Epic Fantasy for Fans


The Game of Thrones tv series or The Song of Fire and Ice book Series by George R. R. Martin has become very popular. Chances are you’ve heard about it or are watching the tv series which is currently in its second season. The Song of Fire and Ice series is an epic fantasy which spans centuries and takes place on two fictional continents called Westeros and Essos. The series follows three basic storylines; the battle of the kings in Westeros to take control of Westeros, the imminent rising of the dark Others from beyond the wall, and the path of Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons as she seeks passage back to Westeros to reclaim the throne for herself. There are currently 5 novels in the series with 2 more on the way.

  1. A Game of Thrones (1996)
  2. A Clash of Kings (1998)
  3. A Storm of Swords (2000)
  4. A Feast for Crows (2005)
  5. A Dance with Dragons (2011)
  6. The Winds of Winter (to be announced)
  7. A Dream of Spring (to be announced)

I have been enjoying the tv series very much and am certain the books must be better. I am about to begin reading the series as each tv season is based on one book…which means it’s going to take much longer to accompany the story by tv than by book. I find the storylines and the characters very captivating. An epic of this magnitude is rare and it has been wonderful to immerse myself in a new world as opposed to reliving the classics like Lord of the Rings, etc. The series is jam packed with action and you will not be bored for one second. Follow closely as there are many characters and they have a glorious multitude of connections to one another which lends the story that much more suspense. As I have yet to read the books I can’t extend this observation to them but for those that would care there is a fair amount of violence, sex, and moral ambiguity in the tv series but I don’t think it detracts from the story, rather, it lends itself to the brutality and raw nature of the places, people, and events. It brings a sense of a spiralling of the situation in Westeros, a kind of foreboding for what will come.

I recommend the series to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy (and don’t mind close to no magic). Have you read any of the Song of Fire and Ice books? Please let us know what you thought.

For more information about the author, the books, storyline, extra character information, please check out the links below.