Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review - East India by Colin Falconer

A Novel of Mutiny, Murder, and Madness!

The Shipwreck of the Batavia



In any other circumstance but shipwreck, rape and murder, a man like Michiel van Texel would never have met a fine lady such as Cornelia Noorstrandt.

He was just a soldier, a sergeant in the Dutch East India company’s army, on his way from Amsterdam to the Indies to fight the Mataram. Such a woman was far above the likes of him.

But both their destinies intertwine far away from Holland, on some god-forsaken islands near the Great Southland. When their great ship, the Utrecht, founders far from home, surviving the Houtman Rocks is the least of their worries.

As they battle to survive and the bravest and the best reveal themselves for what they are, Cornelia’s only hope is a mercenary in a torn coat who shows her that a man is more than just manners and money.

He makes her one promise: ‘Even if God forsakes you, I will find you.’

But can he keep it?

Described by one critic as ‘Jack and Rose in the seventeenth century’, East India will keep you wondering until the final page.

Review 
by
Mirella Patzer

In the novel, EAST INDIA, internationally bestselling author, Colin Falconer, has written a fictionalized accounting of a terrible tale of depravity and barbarity that is known the world over – that of the shipwreck Batavia in 1629 that became one of the most incredible stories of shipwreck ever recorded and one of the bloodiest chapters in Australia's history.

The plight of the women is especially tragic and horrendous. 

Some survivors of the shipwreck made it to some tiny islands that lacked water and food and they suffered dehydration, starvation, and heat illness. Others remained on the ship and were either washed off deck, drowned when the ship collapsed, or failed trying to swim to the islands. 48 people packed into a longboat set off to make a 2000 journey to Batavia to get help. For the people left on the islands, they would face bloodshed, rape, and murder at the hand of the madman and his group of henchmen who seized control. The group began to systematically reduce the survivors to preserve food and water. First, they exiled groups of people to various nearby islands without sufficient food or water, hoping they would perish. When that failed, the group of murderers began drowning people in the ocean. One group of people on one of the islands who had survived on seals, seal’s blood, and urine, became the victims of a secret slaughter by these henchmen. Soon the murders were no longer conducted in secret. One boy was beheaded for sport, and the women were herded into a tent and used as sex slaves.

With his usual style of sharp, succinct writing, Colin Falconer captured the facts of this dreadful drama, skilfully mixed it with a little fiction, and created a powerfully passionate novel that shocked me and held me in its grip! In fact, I read the entire book in one sitting, unable to stop reading. The plight of the survivors at the hands of a few controlling madmen is one that I will not soon forget, and Falconer tells it like it is with blunt honesty and intense narrative.

I have long been a fan and follower of Colin Falconer. I found this novel as spell-binding, expertly written, and compelling as all his others. His tales offer something of interest to both men and women. With poignant characterization, dazzling dialogue, and impeccable research, there is something for everyone that will please. I can’t say enough about this book. Although it is a dark tale, there is a bit of a love story within that lends the tale some closure so the reader is left with a feeling of satisfaction! Nothing short of brilliant, Colin! Can’t wait for your next book on Cleopatra!


Following is a documentary on this shipwreck. It's a bit long at almost an hour, but it's worth watching.


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