Last week Tales of Empire was available free on Amazon. I hope you got a copy. If you didn’t, it will set you back a whole 99p this week.

I’m never sure about whether free promotions really boost sales of books, but in this case book sales aren’t the important thing. After all, at 99p the four authors whose stories make up Tales of Empire are never going to become rich. (If we are ever all in the same place, our profits might buy the coffees.) The whole reason for producing Tales of Empire was introduce new writers in the hope that you will go on to read their books.

My contribution, The Tiger Hunt, is a spin-off story from the world of The White Rajah and I hope that it will make you want to learn more about James Brooke and his life as the White Rajah.

He was a fascinating man: a merchant-adventurer who bought a ship, ostensibly to trade in the South China Seas but really in the hope of extending British influence in an area dominated by the Dutch. He extended British influence even more than he had planned, involving himself so thoroughly in the politics of the local Malay rulers that he ended up ruling his own country: Sarawak in Borneo.

It’s a tale of adventure with battles and plots and midnight raids, but it’s also a more serious story about colonialism and how, even when seeking to do the best for the natives he thought of as “his people” the sudden intervention of Europeans from an alien culture had some unhappy unintended consequences.

James Brooke did an enormous amount of good in Sarawak and even today some people look back on the time of the White Rajahs as a Golden Age. But when his rule was threatened he could be utterly ruthless.

Evil white colonialist or a good man who spent most of his life (and practically all of his fortune) building a peaceful and prosperous society where there had been little but poverty and war?

I’m biased: I think Brooke was a hero, albeit a flawed one. However, I have tried to be even-handed in the telling of his story. The story is told from the point of view of Brooke’s interpreter, John Williamson, who is also the narrator of The Tiger Hunt He is caught up in the events but still sees them as, to an extent, an outsider. He is so shocked by the massacre that he leaves Brooke and Sarawak, convinced that what had happened was wrong.

I hope that you might read the book and make your own decision. It’s available on Kindle for just £3.99. Click  HERE for the Amazon site. You can also buy it in paperback.

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