Trade Wind by M.M. Kaye.
In Trade wind M.M. Kaye tells a story which displays a wealth of exciting incident against a historical background of great fascination, much of which is based in fact. This novel gives full scope to her skill in devising a full-blooded tale of adventure, suspense and romance, which will enthral the huge audience which M.M. Kaye now has throughout the world following the success of The Far Pavilions and Shadows Of The Moon.
Most of the action of the novel takes place in Zanzibar in the middle of the nineteenth century, at which time the lovely island has become the last and greatest centre of the Slave Trade.
The story involves two pairs of adversaries - Daniel Larrimore, a naval officer of the British ant-slavery patrol, versus a renegade English slaver Emory Frost; and the ruling sultan, Majid-bin-Said, whose half -brother and Heir-Apparent, Seyyid Bargash is plotting to dispose him. A visitor to the Island, the American Consul's niece, Hero Hollis, who has arrived there under peculiar circumstances, instantly embroils herself in both conflicts. For Hero is a passionate opponent of slavery, and her main reason for coming to Zanzibar is a determination to do everything possible to stamp out its abominable traffic in human beings; a crusade in which she feels sure that her uncle's handsome stepson, Clayton Mayo, can be counted upon to help her. But the task she has set herself proves to be far harder, more violent and more complicated than she had ever imagined, and she finds herself involved in considerable trouble, including an armed revolt, an abduction, and an appalling cholera epidemic that claims the lives of over twenty thousand of the island's inhabitants.
... From the inner, front cover.
FIRST SENTENCE: In view of the far-fetching effects that a few words mumbled by a disreputable old Irishwoman were to have on the life of Hero Athena Hollis, only child of Barclay Hollis of Boston, Massachusetts, it would be interesting to know to what degree, if any, pre-natal influence was responsible for her character and opinions.
If I am to be brutally honest, I can't help but think that Trade Wind sells itself on the back of the popularity of The Far Pavilions. At over 550 pages it is too long and has neither the plot or characters to sustain interest.
Having read The Far Pavilions many years ago, I was pleased to receive a copy of this novel as I had really enjoyed its predecessor - perhaps this was part of the problem and I was expecting too much from it.
The book started very well with an exciting opening sentence that captured my imagination and had me intrigued but sadly this wasn't to be the case for very long.
I like historical novels and especially those based around actual events and/or people but I'm afraid there was nothing new in the telling of this story which was overlong and, in places, quite rambling. The fact that so much was made of Hero being against slavery was also a bit of a let down as the issue of slavery seemed to come a poor second to other aspects of the story such as the relationship between Hero and the roguish Emory Frost. The characters, though with wonderful names such as Hero Athena Hollis and Batty Potter, were also poorly written and seemed to fall into one of two categories - either total stereotypes or so far from stereotypical they were unbelievable.
All in all, a very disappointing effort that was hard work and took a lot longer to read then it's 553 pages warranted.
MY RATING: 1.5 out of a possible 5.