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Publisher's Summary

At the heart of this vibrant saga is an immense ship, the Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its purpose to fight China's vicious 19th-century Opium Wars. As for the crew, they are a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, 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. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races, and generations.

The vast sweep of this historical adventure embraces the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the crowded backstreets of Canton. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, that makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive - a masterpiece from one of the world's finest novelists.

©2008 Amitav Ghosh; (P)2008 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Such is the power of Ghosh's precise, understated prose that one occasionally wishes to turn the pages three at a time, eager to find out where Ghosh's tale is headed." (The Boston Globe)
"A writer of supreme skill and intelligence. " (The Atlantic Monthly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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    231
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    86
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    37
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    28

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    84
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Outstanding

This book is so colorful and stimulating in its descriptions it may just be one of my favorite books ever. The narrator is smashing. He was so many people with so many voices -- but each distinct. I am the captive of the characters, the story, and the storytelling.

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Best of Amitav Ghosh

I've read & loved many of this author's books, but this is my favorite so far. As always, the author reveals a great deal about India & it's culture by skillful writing that blends character, plot, setting, etc, but this book about the era of the Opium Wars was particularly intriguing. The diverse characters are wonderfully drawn, and Ghosh weaves them together through a capitulating plot which refers to the past and foreshadows future events. At the end of the novel the reader is left content about the outcome yet also eagerly curious about the future.

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Great story - Terrible narrator

How could the performance have been better?

I have powered through some really badly narrated books in the past, but this is by far the worst performance. The narrator absolutely butchered the pronounciations of many words, and I was not able to understand the accents of one of the characters.<br/><br/>This book would have been far better served with a narrator of Indian origin as they would have pronounced the words accurately.

Any additional comments?

Overall the story is really good. If you can put up with the mispronouncations of the narrator then do go ahead and purcahse this book.

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JUST BEGUN BUT THE NARRATION...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I AM ENJOYING THE STORY. THE NARRATION HOWEVER IS TOOO HISTRIONIC. TOO MUCH 'ACTING' AND UNDERSCORED CHARACTERS WITH THE NARRATION PART STILTED. I PREFER A NARRATOR TO HAVE A MUCH LIGHTER HAND W/ CHARACTERIZATION AND TO LET THE STORY FLOW MORE. ONLY ONE CHOICE FOR NARRATION ON THIS, WISH THERE WERE MORE!!!!!!

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I WILL CONTINUE READING AND LISTENING AS I'M COMMITTED TO FINISHING...I THINK (RE: LISTENING). NARRATOR IS ANNOYING W/ HIS EXTREME HISTRIONICS.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

TOO MUCH ACTING! OVERBOARD (NO PUN INTENDED AS THIS IS A SHIIP'S STORY AS WELL) ACTING FOR ALL CHARACTERS. LACK LUSTRE PERFORMANCE AS A NARRATOR, WHICH WOULD BE THE NARRATORS INTRINSIC PART.

Do you think Sea of Poppies needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

WILL LET YOU KNOW

Any additional comments?

THERE SHOULD BE A CHOICE OF NARRATORS. THIS ONE'S VOICE IS OK BUT HIS INTERPRETATION IS MUCH, MUCH TOO HEAVY-HANDED AND IT OVERSHADOWS THE WRITER.

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Love and adventure on the high seas

A real page turner of a book with adventure, love, treachery and friendship aboard the great ship Ibis. Enjoyed every minute of it. looking forward to the River of Smoke next.

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Totally Engaging Story

Amitav Ghosh's wonderfully crafted words read by Phil Gigante's rich voice ensnared me in this powerful story of lives coming from distant corners of the world to meet on a ship in the dangerous waters of the Bengal Seas. I can't wait to start the next book in the series to see what transpires in the lives of these amazing people -- notice I did not call them characters.

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Confusing & Boring!

it must be necessary to read entire trilogy. Difficult to keep track of many ethnic names. Narrator hard to understand with certain accents.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Gripping story from another era

Well written historical fiction. The narratiiin was not that great. Several names are mispronounced. Looking forward to listening the next book in trilogy.

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  • E.
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 09-30-15

Transporting, richly woven

I listened to this book again after finishing the third book in the Ibis trilogy. Ghosh is an extremely erudite author who weaves his knowledge of history, culture, botany and human nature into his tales, and creates believable, fully wrought characters to carry this freight.

From the first, I found the book enchanting, a portal to another world. For all of his other shortcomings, the narrator did a good job of creating a unique voice for each character. I also thought that he handled women's voices fairly well. Unfortunately there were some inconsistencies in his performance that diminished the effect of his good intentions.

Listening for a second time, I enjoyed the book on a different level, but I did have the dawning realization that a narrator with more knowledge of the dialects involved might have been a better choice. I have zero knowledge of Bengali, Hindi, Pidgen or Mandarin, so the mispronunciations of those words were lost on me. However, the accents of certain characters were inconsistent, and the narrator's characterization of a gay character was simply irritating. Nobody talks like that. The narrator's style was also extremely high energy, as one reviewer mentioned, more suited to a two-minute movie trailer than a multi-hour novel.

This series of books has really aroused my interest in 19th century sailing ships and the nautical life, as well as the history of the East India Company, the first modern multi-national company. It is filled with the details of life on a trading vessel, life in Canton, China, and life in Bengali India. The discussion of botany and the flower trade was also a high point.

I like it that one of the main characters is from Baltimore and stands on the edge of the color line. His character sounded to me like a Charleston, SC butler, but I guess it's hard to know what a "octoroon" carpenter from Baltimore in the 1840's might sound like.

The subsequent narrators in the Ibis trilogy series are, overall, an improvement, although I'm not able to assess the verity of their pronunciations of the different languages/patois.

As a producer, I realize how much research and talent would go into creating a faithful rendition of American, British, Hindi, Parsi, French & Chinese accents, as well as the associated Pidgen combinations of these tongues. You'd have to start with a narrator who was already strong in at least two (say, British English and Hindi) and deeply research and/or find coaches for the rest. It might be helpful to have the author review the dailies.

I'm happy to have been able to overlook the narrator's deficiencies enough to enjoy this book immensely. Yes, the ending is abrupt. Apros pos of that, I would request Audible.com to leave a beat or two of silence before inserting their tag ("THIS IS AUDIBLE!") at the end. Let the listener process for a moment!

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Pleasantly surprised

This is a different kind of read than I would normally choose. It was book club book. I am glad to have expanded my reading choices. I am tempted to finish the trilogy.