The second installment of the trilogy after Potato Factory centers around the next generation, Tommo and Hawk, twins who don’t look anything like each other and who will endure (brace yourself): kidnapping and rape, a brutal season on a whaling ship with a vicious captain, campaigning with the Maoris in their fight against the British crown (really!), followed by, respectively, addiction to opium and a brief career as a boxing champion. It’s a little hard to believe that any one individual would be able to have so many adventures, let alone twins!
Violence abounds in this book again. In addition to the rapes already mentioned there are many more rapes, whippings, amputations, death by fire and drowning and much more. Not for the faint of heart. And as with the first book, this one can only be entered as a myth-making history of a country rather than a family — and, with it, all kinds of unpleasantness for the Maoris, Aborigenes, and Chinese immigrants, who are always painted as inferior, despite the existence of a few highly sympathetic supporting characters.