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Publisher's Summary

At the heart of this epic saga, set just before the Opium Wars, is an old slaving-ship, The Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its crew a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts.

In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a truly diverse cast of Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt Raja to a widowed villager, from an evangelical English opium trader to a mulatto American freedman. 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 spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of China. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, which makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive - a masterpiece from one of the world's finest novelists.

©2008 Amitav Ghosh (P)2009 Isis Publishing Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Overly melodramatic

I never really got into this book and was just impatient for it to finish. Not sure I’ll bother with the next two - if it was not so long winded, I feel this would be just another sickly sweet romance novel. The narration was interesting - excellent voices but the delivery of the narration was flat and dull. There were no pauses between many of the different sections, making it confusing to follow at times.

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Excellent story, gripping narration

Amitav Ghosh recreates the colonial world with its conflicting ethos and turbulent commerce in a clash of destinies which converge on a schooner. Narrated with excellent voice modulations at a tight pace.

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Wonderful listen 4 a fast ear

Would you consider the audio edition of Sea of Poppies to be better than the print version?

Haven't read the print

What did you like best about this story?

The flow and the life-like description of the characters

What about Kish Sharma’s performance did you like?

The characters' accents

Any additional comments?

Kish at times read too fast to follow.

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  • T
  • 05-10-12

good beginning gradually decays to nonsense

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Well it's not clear if the recording process was faulty or whether the story actually concludes with the lifeboat leaving in a storm with several main characters on board while several other main characters remain on the ship in various states of unresolved dubious action, but it could have got to maybe 2.5 stars if all this was concluded in some way.

What could Amitav Ghosh have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Make the author sit down and do a serious self critique of his work, modify his objectives in favour of producing a cohesive plausible narrative with consistent characterization, and give it more time, more thought and much hard work rewriting and condensing.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Kish Sharma?

Yes the narration was very good considering the overblown nonsense that the book gradually decended to, and the narrator probably can't be blamed for overdoing it somewhat.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The commencement of the book was excellent The early development of the characters and their origins and the narrative was fine up to maybe one third of the way through. The ingredients were there for a great novel, if only it had continued in that way. Unfortunately the author became overwhelmed by his own characters and quite literally lost the plot.

Any additional comments?

Please convey my comments for what they are worth to the author because in my opinion the author does have talent - currently wasting it.

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  • alli
  • 08-26-15

wonderful!

I'm really enjoying this book. In the beginning I wasn't sure about Kish Sharma's narration, but as I kept listening, I started to appreciate him more and more. His renditions of the characters voices are perfect, and sometimes hysterically funny. The only (constructive) criticism I would have is that sometimes he goes too fast. The story itself is rich, evocative and fascinating. I highly recommend this.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Doriana B.
  • 03-30-15

Excellent!

I really enjoyed this book! The reader is amazing! Pity the quality of the sound of the recording was muffled at times!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • B. Cashin
  • 06-18-14

Loved the book

Would you listen to Sea of Poppies again? Why?

I never listen to a book twice.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I loved this book, but I wonder if the narrator got a bonus for reading at twice the normal rate. I am glad to see that the second part of the trilogy is narrated by a different narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ron
  • 04-29-15

Sound is poor and narration is mediocre

What disappointed you about Sea of Poppies?

The sound is recorded way too low. I have the volume set to max on my phone and can barely hear it - and it is particularly jarring when I switch over to music which, at the same volume setting, is almost deafening.

Would you recommend Sea of Poppies to your friends? Why or why not?

Not the audible version. Poor sound

What didn’t you like about Kish Sharma’s performance?

Flat delivery. Most of the characters hardly sound different from the narration.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Good story. Good ideas. But also too much narration and not enough well written dialogue.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs
  • 12-01-17

eye opening

This is a contemporary piece of writing that holds fast to the great history it is based in.
truly wonderful characters and I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.

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  • Jack
  • 09-28-16

Ripping yarn!

An exciting and exotic adventure! The voice acting is good, with wonderful characterisation. There's a lot of humour in the more absurd but surprisingly believable characters. There's also some good understanding of what motivates the characters to act as they do, both when they do good and bad acts.

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  • Emma
  • 03-23-16

Poor audio performance; slow pacing

Short wasn't too bad - but took a long time for characters to be introduced and the pacing was slow.

poor audio performance - very quite, couldn't listen on the way to work due to traffic. The Indian names were hard to distinguish between.

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  • E. Harmer
  • 02-05-16

Amazing storytelling

This is a fabulous reading of this book by Kish Sharma - does full justice to the language, dialects and accents in the book. And an absolutely gripping novel. I can't recommend it enough!

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  • Gregory Malpas
  • 11-28-15

Not a good book

What would have made Sea of Poppies better?

The narrator reads too fast, and has an accent, to be able to understand some of the words which are Indian. After 1 hour reading I had to give up the book as a bad loss!

Has Sea of Poppies put you off other books in this genre?

Has put me off both the author and narrator

What didn’t you like about Kish Sharma’s performance?

Accent and reads too fast to understand some of the termonology

Any additional comments?

Waste of money as had to give up reading

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • sucolman
  • 05-21-15

Good read

Great story well read. Is the next book available? I would like the same narrator.

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  • Philip
  • 04-12-16

Brilliant Story - Amazing Narration

Kish Sharma brings Amitav Ghosh's intriguing and engaging story to life with a range of voices, characterisations and accents that gathers you in to follow this truly masterful work of modern day literature. With the art and craft of a latter day Dickens, Ghosh has brought to life the Bengal of the early mid 19th century and, like few narrators known to this avid audiobook listener, Sharma does all justice. It's immediately onto River of Smoke. Just surely as an opium addict, I'm chasing the dragon.