Yes. This is why I read historical fiction. Amitav Ghosh devoted five years of his life to the travel, research, and writing required to tell this story. It follows the mingled fates of three families and three countries--Burma, India, and Malaya, from 1885 through the mid-1990s. The story begins with the British takeover of the kingdom of Burma as its king and queen are exiled to a remote compound in India. Through the lives of the orphan Rajkumar, his mentor Saya John, the girl Dolly, and her friend Uma, this sweeping tale explores the intricacies of colonialism, wars, divided loyalties, race relations, and the exploitation of subjugated peoples and their natural resources. The complexity of this work is astounding. Ghosh displays a deep understanding of local cultures and sentiments as well as of world history and politics. It's a challenging read with a few dry patches in the early pages, becoming progressively more exciting and touching. I finished the last 135 pages all in one go. I love the way Ghosh allows the family histories to cycle back around as Jaya searches for connections with her relatives and traces their legacy of courage and love, successes and sacrifices. I cried and cried.