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Publisher's Summary

The story begins in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland. The magnificent ship is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to break into the open when, just off the coast of Western Australia, it strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night. While Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the longboat across 2,000 miles of open sea for help, his second-in-command Jeronimus Cornelisz takes over, quickly deciding that 250 people on a small island is unwieldy for the small number of supplies they have.

Quietly, he puts forward a plan to 40 odd mutineers how they could save themselves, kill most of the rest, and spare only a half-dozen or so women, including his personal fancy, Lucretia Jansz - one of the noted beauties of Holland - to service their sexual needs. A reign of terror begins, countered only by a previously anonymous soldier, Wiebbe Hayes, who begins to gather to him those are prepared to do what it takes to survive....

©2011 Peter FitzSimons (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Hugh
  • Inverell, Australia
  • 03-04-13

Great Australian History

What did you love best about Batavia?

It was unbelievable! However it was true! This story just proves that fact is stranger than fiction.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Dutch soldier who rescued many of the passengers and crew from the depravity of Jeronemus and the mutineers.

Which scene was your favorite?

The description of the executions of the mutineers including the summing up in the epilogue. Justice was crude and rough in the 17th century!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was amazed by the events that took place.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Todd
  • Orange, Australia
  • 02-07-13

Disaster, Mutiny, Murder, Survival

After being recommended this book by my father-in-law, I was intrigued to hear this stunning tale of disaster. Peter Fitzsimons has crafted a terrific retelling of the ill-fated voyage of the Dutch East India Company's flagship vessel. Eloquently narrated by Aspel, the story seems so fantastic that one cannot deny that truth IS stranger than fiction.

From the telling of the VOC's founding, to the Batavia's journey and subsequent shipwrecking on the Abrolhos Islands, to the murderous tyrannical short-lived island regime of Jeronimus Cornelisz, this tale is both amazing and horrifying.

Every Australian should read of this disaster that took place off the coast of Western Australia. It paints a chilling portrait of just how far power can corrupt those who have naught to fear from the outside world. Murderous executions, sexual slavery, survival and heroism: these are all present in this adventure that many have forgotten or are not even aware of.

Although told in present tense and actual dialogue spoken could be contested, Fitzsimons states this at the beginning of the book. It makes for a vivid story that places the reader there at every chilling moment.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ken
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 02-05-13

History brought to life with excitement and grief

This story once underway is amazing, edge of your seat, can't stop listening stuff. What makes it so riveting is that it is a true story that could be a horror movie in the Hostel series but set in the 1600's.

Peter FitzSimons has filled the gaps in the historical accounts of the Batavia shipwreck in a way that is seamless to the reader / listener and that shows respect to the people who suffered in this tragedy. As he says in the forward he completed a 1000 piece jigsaw with only 500 pieces available to him and made the picture look real.

I am a lover of fiction usually. My dad encouraged me to read this and fortunatly it was in the Audible book store. I am very glad I listened to dad (and the book) on this occasion. It is a part of Australian history that I was ignorant to, even though I have seen the replica of the ship. Presented the way it has been in this story, the history and the horror has been brought to life in a way that is interesting and dare I say, given the nature of the tale, enjoyable. Though if you read this, joy is not an emotion that you will feel, rather horror to read what desperate men can stoop to in the absence of law.

The build up and character backgrounds make it start a little slow, but you do need this, so hang in there and discover the history of the Dutch East India company, the spice trade and the Batavia.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Wow! What a story.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, One of the best stories I've ever heard.

What did you like best about this story?

It's a true story that just keeps getting better through the listen. If you read, be sure to view the location on Google Earth. You can still see where the ship hit 400 years later.

What about Richard Aspel’s performance did you like?

Great reader. Ability to pronounce Dutch terms and names added greatly to the listen.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The treatment of the women.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend. If you like true adventure, this book has it all. I've read most, and this is the best.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Garry
  • Cannington, Australia
  • 01-21-13

A fine researched book and read perfectly

What did you love best about Batavia?

The history, the visionary its a well written and describe story

What was one of the most memorable moments of Batavia?

Still working through this, and I am hooked

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Not laugh or cry but the history, a history which even Mr. Fitzsimmons admits is a story very little known in Australia, but should be.

Any additional comments?

I will certainly be listening to other Peter Fitzsimmons books if they are all as well researched and read as this one. What history, what a great listen. You can almost hear the history develop

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Walter
  • Calamvale, Australia
  • 10-01-13

A must Audible book ! Absolutely nail bitting

I heard Peter Fitzsimons on an interview about this book. I purchased it and heard it over a single weekend ! Even if you are not interested in this time in history you will absolutely love this book. I could not recommend this any more even if I tried. Peter has combined real events and his flare to bring together events that you would think were all fantasy or a Hollywood movie. Purchased this book and you will not regret it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Secret Harbour, Australia
  • 09-03-13

Moving.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. A great story tinged with all the emotions. Highs and very lows and knowing that the events actually occurred give the story an added edge. Highly recommended.

What did you like best about this story?

Apart from the historical significance and actually having visited the Abrolhos Islands more than once, the characters were brought to life by superb narration.

Which character – as performed by Richard Aspel – was your favorite?

Pelesart

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but impossible.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Marc
  • Long Beach, WA, United States
  • 05-09-13

Great

I couldn't put it down. May have been a bit gruesome at times, but that didn't slow me down. Both the story and narration were the best. It was hard to believe that it was true.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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They need to make a movie of this

Seriously epic novel. Beautifully written! I couldn't recommend it enough. Someone needs to make a movie about this epic adventure.

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Real life Lord Of The Flies circa 1620s

What an amazing story. Narrated very well by Richard Aspel.
If you like historical true crime and or maritime history this is the book for you.
A stunning and horrible tale.

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  • Thomas
  • 07-07-14

Good read (listen) but could be better

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It was an enjoyable listen overall, and I don't regret having purchased this audiobook. It's a great story which is worth getting to know

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The best aspect is the historical nature of the story - it transports you back to a time of exploration when life was a lot harder and there were new lands to be discovered but it's also very gritty. The style of retelling a historical even as a novel is always (well maybe not always, but mostly) enjoyable. The least interesting is that it doesn't go quite far enough in the novel-isation of the story - it's a bit of a half-way house, not quite history, not quite story.

What three words best describe Richard Aspel’s performance?

OK,

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Yes

Any additional comments?

The insistence of throwing in Dutch words when not necessary is a little annoying - it doesn't really add anything. <br/><br/>Overall a great story but the retelling (both by the author and reader) are good but not great.

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  • Karen
  • 02-25-16

Batavia - the worst voice ever

Good story bit long winded but the guy who read it had the most grating voice and it was very difficult to listen to, frankly I couldn't wait to finish so I could get away from that voice. Not worth the credit I spent on it - oh well😞

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • 05-22-15

Outstanding

an amazing story and as always it is tolf in a very entertaining style by PF.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren
  • 07-17-16

incredible story!

This is an incredible story, and a little piece of history that reads exactly as a high drama, thriller fiction. While there are moments when the telling of the particulars is a little repetetive, and the dramatic narrating style is a little overbearing in parts, but nevertheless, it's a story worth hearing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jillian Staton
  • 04-26-16

bit overwrought at times but gripping

Amazingly, few people have heard of this tragic and gruesome story. Well researched and well written, although I hated the way the author threw in the odd Dutch word. My advice is to skip the introduction as it goes on forever. Looking forward to listening to Masson.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-09-17

Just wow!!

What a story and how well written. I was so addicted that I was walking around with my earplugs in for 5 days barely speaking to anyone at home !!

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  • jessica
  • 10-07-17

Rollicking blood thirsty adventure

What a revelation this story is. I'd never heard of this gruesome tale that took place just off Australia's shores. A fascinating look at the VOC and some of its more ruthless employees on a voyage to the capital of the spice isles. Fitzsimons has researched very well and pulled it into an amazing seafaring adventure.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-28-17

Blood thirsty dutch sailors

A true story describing the breakdown of human exxistance and the battle of good verus evil.

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  • Brad
  • 07-18-17

Blood Thirsty

Let's address the elephant in the room , this book depicts in detail the gruesome atrocities that took place including murder , torture and extreme ways prisoners were sentenced to death in the 1600's . I have a fairly open mind and generally am not squeamish to such matters but I found myself wincing in repulsion at some of the descriptions of many grisly ends
Of course they had to be so as these were tough times , so if you don't have the stomach for murderous mayhem give this book a wide birth
As far as story's go this is a good one , good vs evil and a twist at every turn .
In summary recommended with an R Rating

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-25-17

I got what I expected

Great peace of Australian history. Dark and cruel history. After you finish it you realize how shallow our society is, how little it takes to let the animal from within to take over a human being.

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  • dan
  • 05-08-17

My Favorite book on audible

So as a person who can't stand Peter FitzSimons condescendingly black arm band lefty politics I was shocked to discover the brilliance, fairness and accuracy of his writing. I have read this book in hard cover and listened to it twice on audible. In my opinion it is on of the best stories ever told so deep in history it drips texture. As a monarchist Liberal party member ..... Well done Peter this and your other works have enriched my life :) . So reader if your pondering this review ... chose this book ... trust me .. you will do no better 😃

Dan

Ps I still think Peters politics are juvenile ... but respect the work !! ✊