Book Review: ‘Kingdom Of Peacocks’ Is A Good First Effort

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It is the year AD 1510 and young Zahran wants to be a sailor more than anything in the world. As Portuguese caravels arrive to seize his town of Calicut, his home is blast into rubble, leaving Zahran orphaned after his entire family is killed. Now with his city in ruins and thousands dead, Zahran plans a daring scheme to seek revenge for his family that leads him to the legendary one-eyed pirate and smuggler, Dayjur, and his ship, the Jahanam, where the pirate’s and teen’s lives become entangled in a twist of fate.

Set in the 1500s, this first effort from author Fadel AlMheiri, takes its time setting the pace. What we have is a young Indian orphan boy, Zahran, who witnesses the slaughter of his village and everyone in it, by the Portuguese who are trying to capture the trade routes for themselves. Zahran escapes and knows a pirate ship lies offshore with the renowned pirate Dayjur, whose reputation is known throughout the high seas. It is a long swim from shore but he knows that only death lies behind him and in front, the possibility of drowning, whichever way he goes, he must be willing to take a chance so he chooses the one-eyed pirate Dayjur, also because he seeks vengeance for the death of his family and village.

Dayjur accepts the boy and allows him to become the ship’s cabin boy. The pirate figures are well-drawn and I liked the humor in some of the characters. Zahran is intrigued by the hidden past of Dayjur and he eventually coaxes the pirate chief to tell his story. The is the first of three books that will, I presume, see justice for Zahran.

This first book is very reminiscent of the old Jewish and Sumerian legends of Moses, etc., and author AlMheiri has done his research well. We have the low-born reared by the high-born and all the intrigue that goes into the ups and downs of Palace life. The bad guys are pretty much what you would expect from the shenanigans that goes on in the Sultan’s Palace and the good guys will fight to the end and leave the princess, or handmaiden, wringing their hands and hoping. The fight scenes are impressive and the marshes and the people who live in and around them, are the salt of the earth. The story ends abruptly but I assume the second book will soon be here.

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Ann McDonald

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