This book was just too cumbersome for me. It was interesting reading about the Indians of different castes, and compared to Americans and Europeans of different classes, but not worth the hassle it was keeping track of such a jumble of characters and all their accents and backgrounds. Plus I didn't really like the bits of mysticism, and while Ghosh's writing is super realistic (I could totally see and hear and even smell the ocean and the slave ship and the jails and markets), it just seemed to me like he was smooshing too many stories all together into one book: pirates! mulattos! rebels! gang rape! opium! coolies! bankruptcy! addiction! sainthood! etc in no particular order. Too much for him to focus on each individual story in a satisfying way. And at the end of it, there's a 30 page glossary in super tiny fine print, for all the different language entries including sailor-speak.
I like a complicated plot and don't mind the challenge of a crowded cast of characters, as long as the ending works. I feel like I didn't get to know what happened to 90% of the characters and stories I invested myself in, it's like I got cheated.
Oh. So now I realize it's the first of a trilogy. But still that's no excuse to suck on its own.