Friday, 29 April 2022

[MPOV] Lies that blind

My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 4/5
Published: October 19, 2021
Author: E.S. Alexander
Genre: Historical fiction, Asian literature
Lies That Blind is eighteenth century biographical fiction set in the East Indies, based on a true story. Narrated by Jim Lloyd, a young aspiring journalist, the story is set around the life of Captain Francis Light. He was a British pioneer who created the settlement of George Town on the Malay island of Penang.
Malaya, 1788:

Aspiring journalist Jim Lloyd jeopardises his future in ways he never could have imagined. He risks his wealthy father’s wrath to ride the coat-tails of Captain Francis Light, an adventurer governing the East India Company’s new trading settlement on Penang. Once arrived on the island, Jim—as Light’s assistant—hopes that chronicling his employer’s achievements will propel them both to enduring fame. But the na├»ve young man soon discovers that years of deception and double-dealing have strained relations between Light and Penang’s legal owner, Sultan Abdullah of Queda, almost to the point of war. Tensions mount: Pirate activity escalates, traders complain about Light’s monopolies, and inhabitants threaten to flee, fearing a battle the fledgling settlement cannot hope to win against the Malays. Jim realises that a shared obsession with renown has brought him and Light perilously close to infamy: a fate the younger man, at least, fears more than death. Yet Jim will not leave Penang because of his dedication to Light’s young son, William, and his perplexing attraction to a mercurial Dutchman. 

I would like to thank the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read and review this e-ARC. After having read books about Penang from authors like Tan Twan Eng and Tash Aw, I was excited when I heard of this novel. So here is my honest review......

Overall, this is a well-written novel based on Francis Light's friendship with James Lloyd, his assistant. I am amazed at how well it was written, with perfect punctuated English and explained in detail especially of the surroundings, of the flair or plots, trying to bring us, the readers, into the world of James Lloyd.

Unfortunately, as I continue reading it, I do find the prose to be monotonous and eventually it fell flat for me. At some point, I did speed read as I just want to finish it and also to know how it eventually ends. There were a few key plots revolving around James Lloyd implicating Francis Light, his wife, his son, a Dutchman, a Nakhoda and a Sultan with an unexpected twist. All in all, I liked how it has ended though I wasn't expecting it to end that way.

If you are looking for some historical Asian lit to read, this can be an interesting choice as the author did provide lots of background details in order for readers to understand the era way back then.

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