Well, to get the proper perspective on this book, one should first read its prequel, The Argus Pheasant
. As an added bonus, the first book is much better prepared and proofed than the kindle version of the Yellow Spider
. Unfortunately, I read this book first. Still, it was a good tale, and although poorly formatted, still readable.
This seems to be one of those "yellow peril" kinds of books that were all the rage back a hundred of so years ago. The best known of the genre, I think, would be the Fu Manchu
series. Interestingly, I found The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu
to be so hideously racist that I couldn't read past the first few chapters (or perhaps it was just that the plot line was stupid). Well, this book was even more racist, but, somehow, I found it fascinating.
So, we're in northeastern Borneo, a Dutch colony. The "Resident of Bulungan", which means government executive, I think, is Peter Gross. He's a giant of a man and very powerful and cunning. He's traveling incognito on a boat with several other people, the lovely Grace Costain, her "step-mother", Violet (only 3 years older than Grace), her fiancé, Vincent Brady, and also a missionary and a trader. The ship is attacked by pirates, as directed by the infamous Ah Sing, a.k.a. "The Yellow Spider". Peter and Grace escape overboard and make it to land, somehow. Eventually, they make it to the fort that keeps the local native population under control. The others are held for ransom in a secret city, where Ah Sing runs his operation.
Flitting around in the wilds is Koyala, the virgin priestess of the locals, also known as the Argus Pheasant. Koyala is a half-blood, i.e. her father was a French trader and her mother an indigenous person. Thus she has "tainted" blood. She is also the granddaughter of the most famous local priest and has special powers herself. She is much beloved by the indigenous folks, the Dyaks. It seems that Peter has managed in large part to keep the savages at bay with the help of Koyala. In essence, they are a team. But Koyala sees Peter flirting with Grace, and she goes crazy. The sparks of jealousy threaten Peter and Koyala's alliance, and thereby, the peace of the whole region, or something.
So, Ah Sing gets the locals to rebel, and we have a revolution on our hands. Will Koyala and Peter manage to stem the revolt? Will Grace get reconnected with her fiancé and her "mother-in-law". Will Ah Sing prevail or will he be defeated? Well, read it for yourselves to find out.