This novel is Part 2 of the "Ibis Trilogy". I was happy that it had been written already when I finished "Sea of Poppies" because it meant I could carry on with the story right away.
Seldom have I been so eager to start the next book in a series as with this one. That might be partly because the first book didn't seem to have a proper ending and just invited you to carry on with this one but it certainly is also due to the fantastic talent of this author of telling you a story.
As I have written in my review about "Sea of Poppies", Amitav Ghosh manages to describe everything in a way that you feel you are there. He is such a realistic writer, it is unbelievable. It feels like you have time travelled and are in India or China in the 19th century.
If, like me, you have read the first book in the series, you could not wait to see what happened to the characters of that story. And you won't be disappointed. However, while he introduces other people that did not appear in the first book, it takes him quite a while to come to terms with the fate of some of our heroes from the Ibis. If you are very impatient, you might get just a little annoyed with the storyteller.
A lot of new topics are introduced into this part, even though they have been slightly touched in the first novel. One of them is morale and the difference between Hinduism and Christianity.
I don't want to repeat everything I said about the first episode of the story, so I just refer you to my review of "Sea of Poppies". I also read the third one in the series now: "Flood of Fire".
Apparently, the author said in an interview, “I don't know whether I'll be able to stop at three". Well, I'd love him to write more than three of these but I'd really like him to hurry up with the next one.
From the back cover: "In September 1838 the fortunes of all those aboard three ships on the Indian Ocean—the 'Ibis', the 'Anahita' and the 'Redruth' - are upended in tempestuous seas. On the grand scale of an historical epic, 'River of Smoke' follows the motley collection of storm-tossed characters to the crowded harbours of China. All struggle to cope with their losses - and for some, unimaginable freedoms - in the alleys and crowded waterways of nineteenth-century Canton. As transporting and mesmerizing as an opiate-induced dream, 'River of Smoke' will soon be heralded as a masterpiece of twenty-first-century literature."
There is a good website about "The Ibis Trilogy".