Once again Amitav Ghosh has written an engaging historically based fictional novel that is entertaining and insightful about the the late 19th century collision of East and West in River Of Smoke (2011). This novel focuses on the selling of opium produced in colonial India and sold to the Chinese to make up for the deficit of trade in which Chinese goods flow out and no English goods flowed in-so historically they created a opium epidemic and naturally this novel gives a fictional account of how the Chinese fought back (created blow back?) and tried to stop the influx of the damaging drug, which lead to the Opium Wars of the late 19th century. But it is a novel that is about more than that. Ghosh has also touched on the rise of and development of horticulture that evolved from colonial pursuits as well. And the artistic accomplishments of artist trying to capture reality and artist who were obsessed with capturing life as they saw it, bu there were also the human sagas of ambition, love, honor, and survival that fill the pages of this second volume of an epic story of the clash between east and west. I am looking forward to the final volume, bu they are no small undertaking weighing in at over 500 pages per volume, but there is a lot of enjoyment packed into each volume as well.