Top positive review
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An enjoyable historical novel
on 10 February 2011
I enjoyed this book. It's a novel set in the mid-1800s in what is now Malaysia. It is an exciting tale of an English 'gentleman adventurer', James Brooke, who engaged with the area to the extent that he was invited to become its ruler - The White Rajah of the title.
Told through the eyes of John Williamson, a sailor with a facility for languages, an intelligence of observation, and a love for James Brooke, the story covers the trials and tribulations of Brooke's rise to rule, and his largely paternal view of what would have been seen at the time as a `country of savages'.
While many of the details in the book are true, this is a fictional account, so maintains a pace and a level of interest that a factual history might not. You feel the adventure of exploration of a little-known territory in this book, along with the problems that had to be addressed at the same time such as trying to gain the respect of and control over the various tribes and outside peoples with interests in the area.
Overall, an interesting account of a part of the world I knew nothing about, and of a man who you feel by the end of the book, became a relatively benign ruler, for the good of the local people. Well worth a read.