The tensions of the previous two volumes of the trilogy reach their epic and ethical denouements, as our characters' fates are bundled together in the whirlwind of the first Opium War. All the hypocrisy of Britain's imperial adventuring is laid bare. If you find some of the transcultural and psycho-spiritual categories hard to process, keep going - it is so worth the effort.
That day walking aft, towards the officers' cabins, Baboo Nob Kissin had heard the piping of a flute, the instrument of the divine flautist of Vrindavan, god of love as well as war. The sound of the flute had aroused a sudden stirring in his vitals. After an initial moment of alarm he had realised that the rumbling was not intestinal- it had been caused by the awakening of his late Gurumayee, Ma Taramony, who had transmigrated into his own body after shedding her earthly form. The stirring was an intimation that she was coming to life and beginning to grow, deep inside him, like an embryo inside an egg, and he had known that the process would end only when the occupation of his body was complete and his own outward form was ready to be discarded, like a broken shell.