It was the year of 1833 when Robert Gunn arrived on the China coast. Only the feeblest of defenses now protected the vast and proud Chinese Empire from the ravenous greed of Western traders, and their opening wedge for conquest was the sale of forbidden opium to the native masses.

This was the path that Robert Gunn chose to follow… a path that led him through a maze of violence and intrigue, lust and treachery, to a height of power beyond most men’s dreams — and to the ultimate depths of personal corruption.

Here is a magnificent novel of an age of plunder — and of a fearless freebooter who raped an empire.


‘Highly absorbing account of the corruption of an individual during a particularly sordid era of British imperial history,’ The Sunday Times

‘James Leasor switches to the China Sea more than a century ago, and with pace and ingenuity tells, in novel form, how the China coast was forced to open up its riches to Englishmen, in face of the Emperor’s justified hostility’ Evening Standard

‘In the nasty story of opium – European and American traders made fortunes taking the forbidden dope into nineteenth century China, and this novel tells the story of their deadly arrangements and of the Emperor’s vain attempts to stop them. Mr. Leasor has researched the background carefully and the detail of the Emperor’s lavish court but weak administration is fascinating. The white traders are equally interesting characters, especially those two real-life merchants, Jardine and Matheson.’
Manchester Evening News

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3 Thoughts.

  1. This book is great. Robert Gunn is a great character with heroic style and charisma and the officials are portrayed in neat detail. I think it evokes the period and the fiery, risky and entrepreneurial nature of the interactions between the empires very nicely.

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