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The Day of the Scorpion (The Raj Quartet #2)

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  1,055 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
In The Day of the Scorpion, Scott draws us deeper in to his epic of India at the close of World War II. With force and subtlety, he recreates both private ambition and perversity, and the politics of an entire subcontinent at a turning point in history.

As the scorpion, encircled by a ring of fire, will sting itself to death, so does the British Raj hasten its own destruct
Paperback, 495 pages
Published 1983 by Granada (first published 1968)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,994)
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Nandakishore Varma
The proud scorpion, surrounded by a wall of fire from kerosene, will sting itself to death in the face of its inescapable fate - such is the myth. Here we see an age-old empire do the same: and it is reflected in the life of two sisters, who face death and the loss of innocence in different ways.

Another masterly creation from Paul Scott.
Kressel Housman
After I finished The Jewel in the Crown, my mother, who adores the Raj Quartet, was amazed that I didn’t immediately ask to borrow the next in the series. “Aren’t you curious about the characters?” she asked. She doesn’t understand the allure of a group read. I was perfectly content to postpone the pleasure of the next book until I’d get the even greater pleasure of dozens if not hundreds of Goodreaders to read and discuss the book with me.

But aside from that, The Jewel in the Crown works ver
Mar 14, 2012 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as history can’t be undone, innocence, once lost, can’t be retrieved. If history would allow, I would dearly love to read Paul Scott’s The Day Of The Scorpion without having first read The Jewel In The Crown. Scorpion is very much a continuation of the Crown and I am not convinced that a reader coming cold to the book as a stand-alone work would cope with the multiple references to what came before. Like the characters in Paul Scott’s novels, I can’t undo history and can only thus reflect o ...more
Sarah Harkness
Jul 13, 2011 Sarah Harkness rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sarah by: my parents?
In some ways, an easier book to read than the Jewel in the Crown, as the narrative is more straightforward, with one principal protagonist, Sarah Layton. Still very dense with backstories and political insight, and a whole cast of fabulous new characters - Bronowski, Barbie, the poisonous Mildred, the tragic Susan - the slightly less-well-drawn Ahmed...there are dialogues that bear very close reading - for instance Jimmy Clark's seduction of Sarah - and there are plots almost too dense to deciph ...more
This book was a true paradox for me. On the one hand Scott lays out a compelling plot. This was one of those books that I could not wait to get back to reading during my lunch break or on the bus. On the other hand, however, Scott's style is extremely hard going. He has a predilection for very long sentences and his constant use of dangling prepositions is at best inelegant. Nothwithstanding, the book is certainly worth a read for the portrayal of a way of life that no longer exists.
Mar 13, 2015 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liked even more than The Jewel in the Crown.
Roger Brunyate
More conventional than its predecessor, but so brilliant

Nothing becomes this second volume of Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet so much as its opening and closing. As he had done several times in The Jewel in the Crown , Scott leaps ahead in his prologue to post-Partition India. His image of a woman in a burqa in a Hindu town, trailing a distinct scent of Chanel No. 5, symbolizes the disorder that the British left behind them after Independence in 1947, and the demise of their own imperial dreams. T

Finally we hear Hari Kumar's side of the story. Ronald Merrick loses an arm, which perhaps compensates for the torture and jail time inflicted on Kumar. Sarah Layton entertains vague fantasies about her Indian equestrian escort, but loses her virginity to a British douchenozzle. Living in the Raj has pickled Susan Layton's brain and being a new mother, it turns out, is not her thing.

An astonishing number of typos litter the text, particularly toward the end. I had fun underlining them.
Review in Progress

I finished this one in the wee hours of the morning. And sat staring at the last page with my hands over my mouth, stunned. I felt it had all happened to me. Just happened.

I will defer my detailed review until I have re-read this extraordinary book along with the HBC, and I'll be posting thoughts from time to time here. If you are thinking of reading this, the group read is only just getting started.

Jill Hutchinson
Oct 01, 2014 Jill Hutchinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This second book of the Raj Quartet continues the story of those English men and women who live in India during WWII. Much is happening in India at this time besides the war as the indigenous population is chaffing for independence. Gandhi has been imprisoned as well as member of the Indian Congress and unrest, although somewhat subtle at this point, is stirring

In this installment, we follow the lives of Sarah and Susan Layton, two young women whose father is a POW in Germany. These sisters cou
Kathleen Hagen
The Day of the Scorpion, by Paul Scott. Book 2 of the Raj Quartet. B-plus. Cassette book borrowed from the Library for the Blind.
In my opinion not as good as The Jewel in the Crown. This book is dated immediately after the first one. At the beginning of the book, Harry is still imprisoned allegedly for the rape and assault of Daphne Manners. The best section of this book was the interview he had with a policeman about what happened, why he was arrested, and Merrick’s part in the whole affair and
Nov 14, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
While the first novel of the Raj Quartet focused on a particular incident -- the rape of a British woman in India -- the second part takes the story into a broader social and political context. The characters must deal with the realization that, while they are no longer welcome in India, they also have become alienated from British society at home. Plotwise, this novel is all about subtle emotional encounters. No one says anything outright and the reader must interpret the book's many long conve ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Annmbray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW! An intense book. Had to scrape myself off the floor at the ending. Really looking forward to Part III. Fascinating to see how much effort was made by the Brits and some of the Indians to keep the decaying system in place. Also, never realized that there were Indians who fought alongside the Japanese against the Brits and Burmese! Great descriptions of a truly incredible country! All this interwoven against the story of the rape of Miss Manners in the Bibighar Gardens that was the central st ...more
David Anderson
Aug 24, 2016 David Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As with the first novel, the style of narration is looping and elliptical, jumping back and forth in time and between the different perspectives of the major characters. We get further insight into Hari Kumar's fate and, even though he still refuses to reveal to the authorities all he knows about the Manners rape case, the authorities now know the truth about Ronald Merrick's treatment of him and have enough information to believe in Hari's innocence. As for Merrick, the wheel of Karma comes dow ...more
David Guy
Dec 26, 2014 David Guy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have finished this second volume of the Raj Quartet, and I'm now really hooked; this is an astounding series of books. At first this second volume seemed to be about a completely different group of characters and incidents than the first, but then the various elements of the first novel began to creep back. I'm sorry I used the word verbose in talking about the first volume; I think I'd now use the word expansive, in the sense that it might be used for many great writers. Scott gets into an im ...more
Jan 16, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
Almost as enjoyable as The Jewel in the Crown, 'The Day of the Scorpion' moves the reader to a new set of characters - the Laytons and their circle - in new locations - Mirat, Ranpur and Pankot - but is still closely linked to the preceding book with Merrick and Kumar both returning and the events of August 1942 still reverberating. What I think I am enjoying most about Scott's writing is the psychological depth he brings to each of his characters: even when they are representing a 'type' they a ...more
Albert Gomperts
Aug 21, 2016 Albert Gomperts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dense and remarkable approach to the closing years of the British Empire in India.
This is the first novel of the series I have read and I will try to locate the others in due course.
Paul Scott takes a modernist approach and although he might not be in the same league as Proust I think this book could be considered for inclusion in the modernist canon.
Scott can write very well although the writing is sometimes uneven.
I was unconvinced by the seduction of Sarah, but thrilled by Sarah's encou
Jul 01, 2014 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The second book in this series has proven to be just as layered as the first book, The Raj Quartet (1) The Jewel in the Crown, The Day of the Scorpion by Paul Scott The Jewel in the Crown. The characters are so well developed and involving and I found myself "living" the novel in my head throughout reading it, a sure sign (to me) of a great book.

About a quarter of this book is told through the interrogation of Hari Kumar, a character from the first book, and I thought it was a masterful example of using the perspectives of at least 3 different characters to play out the un
Cindy Rollins
Jul 05, 2016 Cindy Rollins rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I have been reading the Raj series by Paul Scott for 3 years and have just finished book 2. It is a historically significant, beautifully written book if not enjoyable as a novel in the usual sense. As these books are about the painful birth of modern India out of its old form British rule almost all of the characters are living in confusion.
The story of Daphne Manners from Book 1 is clearly reiterated here which was helpful as I tried to remember what I had read earlier.

I will most certainly
Samantha Marshall
Volume 2 examines how a group of mostly new characters are indirectly affected by the events in Volume 1 while continuing to address the same issues of British identity at the end of the raj in India.
Brent Hayward
Apr 15, 2015 Brent Hayward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harry C., central figure in the first of the Raj Quartet books (which are set in India during the British Occupation) is an Indian-born man, raised in England, returning to his father’s county only to have his life promptly unravel (as he knew it would). In this book, the second of the quartet, among several new characters, are introduced two white sisters, born and raised in India to British parents, both of whom feel more comfortable on India’s troubled soil. Through shifts like this, the angl ...more
Martin Zook
Jan 09, 2014 Martin Zook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The second volume of Paul Scott's Raj Quartet shifts focus more exclusively onto the deteriorating British Raj administration in contrast to the opening volume which invested more attention to the insights, perspectives, and myths of Indians during the birthing of their state.

The artistic peaks of The Jewel in the Crown are sacrificed to a tighter focus and more linear narrative in The Day of the Scorpion. But what emerges is a more accessible book and more linear story that doubtlessly has a wi
Jan 09, 2016 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Paul Scott's no Tolstoy! Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet has been stated by several reviewers to be Tolstoyan in style. I dispute their assertions vigorously.

For one, Tolstoy's novels always give a deep insight into the feelings, motives and thoughts of the characters involved. Paul Scott's character studies are not that deep. The only exception to this was in the first part of the Quartet, The Jewel in the Crown, in which the feelings and emotions of Ms. Daphne Manners, the big-boned, awkward, Br
Jan 08, 2014 Ian rated it really liked it
The second book of the Raj Quartet, which I am getting round to reading much more slowly than I had expected. But then these are not books to read quickly. The Day Of The Scorpion is not a direct sequel to The Jewel In The Crown, although it story does follow on from the first book of the quartet – but with a different cast. This book is set in the garrison town of Pankot and the independent satrapy of Mirat. It opens with a link to The Jewel In The Crown when Sarah Layton meets Lady Manners, mo ...more
Jason Fernandes
In India, in 1943, a groom and his best man are travelling to the wedding ceremony when a rock is hurled at their limousine. A window is shattered and the groom, Teddie, has a cut on his cheek. He is quickly patched up and the rest of the day goes on, almost without incident. But the mystery remains.

What prompted this act of violence? Was it simply the random act of some misfit? Could it be due to the fact that both men are English and the perpetrator was some individual, committed to the cause
William Leight
I quite liked The Day of the Scorpion, although I preferred The Jewel in the Crown, the first book in the Raj Quartet. The Jewel in the Crown concentrates on the events surrounding a single incident, a rape, as they are perceived by various characters with different viewpoints and levels of involvement. This gives it a sense of continuity which The Day of the Scorpion lacks: although the original rape has consequences in The Day of the Scorpion as well, and several characters from The Jewel in t ...more
Feb 22, 2013 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: colonialism
The Jewel in the Crown (number 1 in the series) was a good book but a frustrating one. With sentences that could ramble on for half a page, Paul Scott seemed to take several hundred pages more than he strictly needed to say some interesting and thought provoking things about the nature of colonialism generally, its impacts on colonisers and colonised and the British experience of India (and vice versa) specifically. I'm glad I read that book but found it a bit of a slog, so felt compelled but no ...more
Jul 10, 2013 itpdx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wonderful historical fiction is the second book in Scott's Raj Quartet. It is set in India during WWII. Again Scott presents interesting characters including Britons who are in the third generation in India who are beginning to see the end of British domination and don't understand where they belong, and Indians involved in various factions of the liberation movement, radicals and conservatives, Hindu and Moslem. Scott skillfully weaves in information from the first book so that you do not ...more
Oct 26, 2015 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Annoyingly repetitive of Jewel in the Crown. The interrogation of Harry Kumar is a show-stopper, but in a bad way. Best part is the fleshing out of Ronald Merrick. He's actually a stand-up guy, except that he's a sadistic torturer. What a great character.

Scott does men well. Women not so much. Some mack-daddy connives/tricks a virgin into (barely) consensual sex. And then Scott yammers on about her "entering her body's grace" because she had sex. Dude, really?
Jun 16, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miraculously, even less happens in this book than in its predecessor. I think it suffers from being an incomplete story in the face of following a rather complete story before it. I'm excited to see what follows, though, as this book too contained (amongst pages of admitted dreariness) the same witty, insightful narrative that made the first book so captivating.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Paul Scott was born in London in 1920. He served in the army from 1940 to 1946, mainly in India and Malaya. He is the author of thirteen distinguished novels including his famous The Raj Quartet. In 1977, Staying On won the Booker Prize. Paul Scott died in 1978.
More about Paul Scott...

Other Books in the Series

The Raj Quartet (4 books)
  • The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj Quartet, #1)
  • The Towers of Silence
  • A Division of the Spoils (The Raj Quartet, #4)

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“The twin rivulets gleamed on his prison cheeks, and then the image became blurred and she felt a corresponding wetness on her own – tears for Daphne that were also tears for him; for lovers who could never be described as star-crossed because they had had no stars. For them heaven had drawn an implacable band of dark across its constellations and the dark was lit by nothing except the trust they had had in each other not to tell the truth because the truth had seemed too dangerous to tell.” 1 likes
“Incidentally, I do not agree with you when you speak of Indian independence having become a foregone conclusion. Independence is not something you can divide into phases. It exists or does not exist. Certain steps might be taken to help bring it into existence, others can be taken that will hinder it doing so. But independence alone is not the idea I pursue, nor the idea which the party I belong to tries to pursue, no doubt making many errors and misjudgements in the process. The idea, you know, isn’t simply to get rid of the British. It is to create a nation capable of getting rid of them and capable simultaneously of taking its place in the world as a nation, and we know that every internal division of our interests hinders the creation of such a nation. That is why we go on insisting that the Congress is an All India Congress. It is an All India Congress first, because you cannot detach from it the idea that it is right that it should be. Only second is it a political party, although one day that is what it must become. Meanwhile, Governor-ji, we try to do the job that your Government has always found it beneficial to leave undone, the job of unifying India, of making all Indians feel that they are, above all else, Indians. You think perhaps we do this to put up a strong front against the British. Partly only you would be right. Principally we do it for the sake of India when you are gone. And we are working mostly in the dark with only a small glimmer of light ahead, because we have never had that kind of India, we do not know what kind of India that will be. This is why I say we are looking for a country. I can look for it better in prison, I’m afraid, than from a seat on your Excellency’s executive council.” 1 likes
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