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Amitav Ghosh's "Sea Of Poppies" Review Part Two


Sea of Poppies is one of those books that was so well received by critics that, in its paperback version, there are pages of excerpts from warm, glowing reviews. One of the best ones is from Hirsh Sawhney, who compared the book to George Lucas and the Star Wars trilogy for the New York Observer, comparing it more to a "cinematic epic" than a typical novel.

Indeed, it is alot like Star Wars. Like Star Wars, nearly all of the characters have had to face either the worst ugliness of the world (for Deeti, it was drug addiction, rape and attempted murder) and yet somehow unite on the vessel of the Ibis. The most notable protagonist is Zachary Reid, who like Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy of Star Wars seems to be subscribing to a mix of naivety and heroic predilection that keeps him from ever being beaten down by the horrors he sees.

The odd twist on Reid (and which I don't think is a spoiler seeing as it's described bluntly in the back of the book) is his being Mulatto, the product of a rape of a slave woman by a slavemaster. He has been freed and there is an awkward conversation about slavery between him and Benjamin Burnham, an extremely bigoted English gentlemen who can't help but remind me of Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope.

Reid ends up butting heads with all of the villainous characters in this book, all of whom dislike him strongly and vindicating his role as hero. The fiercest hate comes from the character of Crowle, who is reminiscent of the bounty hunters that litter the original trilogy of Star Wars and series like Clone Wars. These characters do wicked, awful things not necessarily because they are bad but because they just know no better and are so warped by the world as to only see pleasure in inflicting the sort of pain that they feel every day on others. Crowle's cruelty becomes a bit too much even for others on the ship and, like Star Wars, even those with intentions less benign than Reid's team up in taking him down.

There is a bit of the children's book series Redwall in here and, if a parent is willing to let their children read some very graphic scenes, it is very much a book that is tempered with good and evil in much the way that children's books are almost by definition. I really can't wait to finish this series.

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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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