Top positive review
What a page-turner!
28 December 2018
I meant to read a few pages before going to sleep; I ended up finishing the whole thing in one sitting.
The story of the Batavia contains heroic last-chance voyages, dramatic battles, hideous violence, a truly demonic villain, and a climax that I would scoff at as a deus ex machina if it happened in fiction. It's so metal they made an opera out of it.
Peter Fitzsimons presents an impeccably researched take, with numerous quotes from primary sources, maps and an explanation of what's hard fact and what's (slight) dramatic license. It reads like a novel and is just breathtaking.
I read it in Kalbarri in Western Australia, not far from the wreck site. Eerily, I discovered the next day that I was only a few km from the site where two young mutineers were marooned. I visited that site, and the Batavia display in the Geraldton museum, and also the Shipwreck Gallery in Perth, where you can see actual recovered timbers from the Batavia; a ship that sank in 1529. Not to mention the cutlass-scarred skeletons of victims. Absolutely remarkable.