Jane Wilson-Howarth

Blog

 
 

Tyrant Queen

Thursday, 04 February 2016
 Amazon receives and probably deserves much of the flak it gets, but it does provide a good service to avid readers that I appreciate. My browsing history alerted it to my interest in Madagascar and I learned that there was a novel about Madagascar written by R M Ballantyne, of “Coral Island” fame. Not only that but it was available free for kindles. I’ve just finished reading it.
The Fugitives or the Tyrant Queen of Madagascar was first published in 1887 but even knowing it would be dated, there is a great deal to pull you up short on reading this work. It is – unsurprisingly – very colonial in its tone and the language is peppered with much that is no longer politically correct.  Of the Tyrant Queen’s ladies in waiting for example: ‘some wore head-dresses of gorgeous colouring, composed of ribbons, flowers and feathers in great profusion, but as no head-dress, however strongly marked by barbaric splendour, can excel the amazing feminine crests in present use among the civilised, we refrain from attempting description!’
What is exceedingly powerful about this book is the account of the enslavement, torture and martyrdom of thousands of local Christians during the reign of the Tyrant Queen Ranavalona I who ruled from 1828 to 1861. She was barbaric and the lucky ones were simply thrown to their deaths from a huge rock (“the Place of Hurling”) close to the royal palace. The portrayal of the Malagasy Christians who refused to deny their faith on pain of death is moving.
Ballantyne clearly did his research well regarding the historical setting of this adventure story, whose central characters are three Englishmen – a medical student, a sailor and the ships cook, nicknamed Ebony because he is black. The men land on Madagascar but are marooned on the island when their ship is attacked. The unlikely threesome decide to head for the Malagasy capital to appeal for aid. As they travel though the dense forests of Madagascar, Ballantyne does attempt to describe the beauty of the wild country but here he fails and it is clear he has neither visited the island nor researched its incredible plants and animals. In chapters 9 – 11 Ballantyne describes hunting herds of wild cattle. Yes cattle rustling was practised but these were not wild animals. Grasshoppers and a kind of wolf are mentioned and in chapter 25 there is reference to “an abundance of game such as pheasant, partridge, peacocks, turkeys and snipe.” None of these are found on Madagascar. And there is but passing mention of lemurs and nothing of the amazing baobabs that dominated the dry forests. So don’t read this novel for the natural history, read it for an astonishing account of the queen some believe was half mad, others describe as the ultimate anti-colonial nationalist.
Posted: 04/02/2016 11:23:10 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments



    Pontifications
    Travel
    Wildlife
    Writing
#righttobreathe / 100 word story / 100-word story / 50 Camels / 50 Camels and She's Yours / A Glimpse of Eternal Snows / A Wide Woman on a Narrow Boat / Aberdeen / Abuja / Active Fairness System / advertising / age concern / air pollution / air quality / Akwanga / alcoholism / Alicia Ostriker / ANM / Annapurna / anthology / Asad / author / Author from Hull / author interview / Auxiliary Nurse Midwife / Baglung / Bagmati / Bajaj / Bajaj Pulsar / Bajura / banknotes / BBC Radio Cambridgeshire / bear precautions / Bertrand Russell / Bhotang / bike trip / birdlife / birds / black bear / black kites / black pine forest / Blue sheep / book launch / border guards / Boreal Wildlife Centre / Bradt / Bradt Travel Guides / Brahmin / breakfast / bridge / brown bear / buckwheat / buckwheat bird / buffalo cart / bulbul / camaraderie / Cambridge / Cambridge writers / camping hazards / canals / carcinogens / caste / catastrophe / celtic / chaite-dhan / Chele / childbirth / children's books / Chirang / Chisapaani / Chisapani / Chobhar / Chobhar Hill / Chough / climate change / clinics / cold desert / colourful hat / comfort / cows / cyclist / dal bhat / dangerous wildlife / demonstration / Department of Roads / desert / development / development work / Dhading / Dhading besi / Dhaulagiri / Dhee / dhulomandu / Dolpa / Dolpo / domestic violence / Dr. Katrina Butterworth / dragon / dragons / Drakmar / droppings / Dunai / dust / early marriage / earthquake / earthquake alarm / earthquake damage / earthquake today / East Anglia / eco-resort / eco-tourism / Edinburgh / embankments / emergency / English journey / English language / environmental crisis / Eräkeskus / eternal snows / evacuation / Ewell / exploitation / Fagu Purnima / Falgun / feelgood read / festival / festival of colour / festivals in March / fiction / Finland / fire-tailed sunbird / fishing / fishtail / flash fiction / flash literature / flash prose / flood protection / floods / footbridge / footpath / forest / Gai Tihar / Ganesh himal / Gangestic Plain / Gangetic Plain / Ghami / Ghemi / ghoral / giant crab spider / giving birth / global warming / goodread / goral / gorge / Gorkha / GP writer / Greece / grey-headed canary-flycatcher / hangry / happiness / happyness / hare / health assistant / Heffers / Heffers bookshop / Hell's Grannies / himal / Himalaya / Himalayan Black Bear / Himalayan Goral / Himalayan griffon vulture / Himalayan Hostages / Himalayan Kidnap / Himalayan serow / Himalayan Sunrise / Himalayan woolly hare / Himalayas / himals / Hindu festival / Hindu kingdom / Holi / Holi Purnima / holocaust / home delivery / honey buzzard / hoopoe / hot springs / Hotel Deep of Worldtop / Hotel Peace Palace / house crows / human kind / human spirit / idyllic childhood / Indra Jatra / Ireland / irrigation / jackal / Janajibika Hotel / Jane Wilson-Howarth / Jews / Jomosom / Jomsom / jungle / Juphal / Kaag Beni / Kag Beni / Kali Gandaki / Kali Gandaki gorge / Kalopani / Kalunki / Karnali River / Kashigaon / Kashigoan / Kathmandu / Kathmandu Valley / Katrina Butterworth / khana / Khartoum / kickstart / kidnap / kindness / Kolkata / Krishna / Kumari / Kurds / Kurentar / Kusma / labour / lama / Lamjung himal / lammergeier / lammergeyer / landscape / landslide / landslides / largest tribuary of the Ganges / Laxmi Puja / leave no one behind / leave no-one behind / life lessons / living goddess / LoMantang / London pigeon / loneliness / Lord Ganesh / Lord Krishna / loss and recovery / love / Lukhu river / Machhapuchare / Makwanpur / Manbu / mani wall / Martinselkosen / Mary Kingsley / masala tea / maskmandu / maternal mortality / Maya and the Dragon / medical emergency / medical evacuation / medical Students / Melamchi / Michael Rosenberg / microfiction / Middle Hills / mineral water bottles / morning mist / Moth Snowstorm / motorbike / motorbike trip / motorbikes / motorcycle / mountain medicine / mountains / mouse hare / mouse-hare / Muktinath / Mukwanpur / mulberries / Mustang / nag puja / narrow boat / nature / Naubisi / neighbours / Nepal / Nepal Communitere / Nepal road trip / Nepal roadtrip / Nepal Valley / Nepal wildlife / Nepali / Nepali food / Nepali tea / Nepali topi / Nepali wildlife / Nigeria / Nigiri himal / Nilgiri / Nilgiri South / non-fiction / Nonsuch Palace / Nonsuch Park / Northumberland / novel / nuthatch / Nuwakot / obstetrics / orb spider / ox-cart / parenting / Passer montanus / passing places / passive pleasure / Patan / Patan Durbar Square / payer / People in Need charity / percussion / PHASE / PHASE Nepal / PHASENepal / Phewa Tal / Philippines / Phoksundo / phonetics / photoktm2016 / pigeons / pika / pike / pilgrims / plastic waste / pleasure / Pokhara / Police My Friend / pollution / polytunnel / pony trekking / post earthquake recovery / powder / pregnancy / Pul Chowk / Pulsar / Pungmo / Purnima programme / Pyncnonotus cafer / rabies / Rajapur / Rajapur bazaar / Rajapur Island / Rajapur market / rat snake / Real Fairness for Real men / reconstructed dialogue / Red Dawn Rising / red-vented bulbul / refugees / relief work / Remover of obstacles / rhododendron / ricefields / Richard Mabey / Ringmo / risk takers / river crossing / river island / river-crossing / road trip / roadtrip / Rock Doves / rock shelters / Roe Deer / Royal Enfield Riders Club / Royle's pika / rubbish / Rufus-breasted Niltava / rupees / Russian border / Sally Haiselden / samosa / Sarengkot / sarus cranes / scorpion / Seeta Siriwardena / self-harm / serow / Shangri La / Shangri-la / Shey-Phoksundo National Park / Shivapuri / Shivapuri Nagajung National Park / Shivapuri National Park / Shivapuri Village / Shivapuri Village Resort / short story / shrikes / Simon Howarth / Sindhupalchowk / Sinhala / Sinhalese / skipper butterflies / skippers / snow leopard / Snowfed Waters / solid waste disposal / Soti / South Sudan / sparrows / Speaking Tiger / spider venom / Spiny babblers / spotted owlet / squirrel / Sri Lanka / Sri Lankan author / Stephanie Green / stink bug / street art / street dogs / Subsistence agriculture / Sudan / Suli Gad Khola / Suli Gad river / Summit Air / sunbird / sunrise / Surrey / suspended bridge / Sussex / Suttee / Tahr / tar tattoo / tato pani / Tatopani / tea / tea shop / teacher / teashop / Teku / Teku infectious diseases hospital / terai / Thamel / Thankot / Tharu / Tharu people / The Lonely Cat / Thessaloniki / time / To be blessed / traffic jam / traffic rules / traffic uncles / transHimalaya / transHimalayan / travel anthology / travel writing / travelling with children / tree sparrows / trekking / trust / Tsirang / Twin Otter / Uganda / unplanned pregnancy / Upper Mustang / urban life / urban pollution / urban water supply / vegetarian / velvet-fronted nuthatch / Viiksimontie / Village dogs / village life / vulture / Wai / Wanderlust / water supplies / water tankers / West Sussex / western Nepal / widower / wild goat / wild places / wildlife / winter madness / winter Wheat / Women Travellers / wordsmith / World Environment Day / world's deepest gorge / writers group / writing / writing about writing / writing for children / writing group / year fives / young mother / young motherhood / Your Child Abroad