Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading The White Rajah by Tom Williams
5 out of 5 stars
I read the third in this series (the Williamson papers), Back Home, five years ago, and adored it – they’re all stand alones. I read Book #2, Cawnpore, shortly afterwards, liked it but in a 4* rather than a ‘5* OMG’ way, and never got round to reading The White Rajah. Then I watched the film Edge of the World, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as James Brooke, and thought, I know of a book about this…
In short, it’s a fair bit different from the film, in that it’s written from the fictional John Williamson’s point of view – he is cast as an interpreter who went with Brooke to Borneo. However, I recognised the atmosphere and the chain of events, but even if I hadn’t, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Tom Williams is a fine writer and a most engaging storyteller, his style perfect for the time period, and I was engrossed from the first page. His characterisation is subtle and clever, and the narrative is not without humour (the earlier Governor of Sarawak’s military strategy).
I loved reading about the different tribes in their long huts and the traditions; I would have liked to read more about them. Of course, the attitudes of the British men are of the time, and at first they see it as their God-given right – nay, duty – to bring ‘civilisation’ to the natives, though there is a rather nice passage in which Williamson observes a tribe and considers that they seem quite happy and efficient as they are, thank you very much. About the Dyaks: ‘These were a people who knew not the poorhouse nor the lockup, whose lives were not blighted by working in great factories. They knew nothing of steam locomotives or spinning machines but led a simple life at one with nature.’
Highly recommended: ‘A tale of adventure set against the background of a jungle world of extraordinary beauty and terrible savagery’.
Invalided out of the East India Company’s army, James Brooke looks for adventure in the South China Seas. When the Sultan of Borneo asks him to help suppress a rebellion, Brooke joins the war to support the Sultan and improve his chances of trading successfully in the area. Instead, he finds himself rewarded with his own country, Sarawak.Determined to be an enlightened ruler who brings peace and prosperity to his people, James settles with his lover, John Williamson, in their new Eden. But piracy, racial conflict, and court plotting conspire to destroy all he has achieved. Driven from his home and a fugitive in the land he ruled, James is forced to take extreme measures to drive out his enemies.The White Rajah is the story of a man, fighting for his life, who must choose between his beliefs and the chance of victory. Based on a true story, Brooke’s battle is a tale of adventure set against the background of a jungle world of extraordinary beauty and terrible savagery. Told through the eyes of the man who loves him and shares his dream, this is a tale of love and loss from a 19th century world that still speaks to us today.