- Title: The Throne of Ledang
- Author: Iskandar Al-Bakri
- Publisher: Buku Comel
- Release Date: October 1st 2015
- Pages: 229
The legend of the Princess of Mount Ledang is the best-known and best-loved folklore in Malaysia. In 1488, news of her timeless and incomparable beauty reaches the ears of Sultan Mahmud Shah, the eighth Sultan of Malacca, who immediately dispatches an entourage to seek her hand in marriage. She agrees, only on the fulfillment of several bizarre conditions within a year. His majesty was tasked to prepare seven barrels of mosquito’s liver, maiden’s tears, areca juice, hearts of germs, a golden bridge spanning the distance between Mount Ledang and Malacca, and a cup of royal blood from the Sultan’s infant prince as His Majesty’s wedding gifts. The night before the year’s end, the Sultan had all but one condition to fulfill; to prepare a cup of royal blood. His Majesty holds his son’s head and prepares himself to slit the boy’s throat. Magically, the princess appears and angrily tells him that she would not marry a man who would murder his own son.
All is lost, and the bridge, after several generations, is forgotten.
In 1875, Indera Sakti, a secret society with ambitions to seize political control of the entire Peninsula, mounts a quest to claim the twenty-six mile long golden bridge. Darul Kubra, a brotherhood of noble warriors, fights them to the bitter end.
This is a story about the adventures of a young rope maker and a slave, Izz and Purnama, who are drawn into the hunt for the greatest treasure in Malay Literature that would ultimately change the course of their lives.
I have so many things to say, but I too want to keep this spoiler-free so that you will be able to enjoy this great book as much as I did.
“Clear your mind and think about it slowly,” Che Khalid advised.
Thanks, Che Khalid. I know I can count on you!
It gives me great inspiration and pride when I come across a Malaysian author, especially one who writes exceptionally well in English. The feeling is even greater when the book is about Malaysia – and in this case, Malaysian folklore, which I, as a youth in my early 20s, still have so much to explore!
Puteri Gunung Ledang is one of Malaysia’s most talked-about folklore. Our community has always used different mediums to share this legend to the world – through movies, music and even theatre. So your next question might be – is this book a retelling of the legend, similar to ones we’ve seen before? Yes and no. Yes because it does give a fresh new perspective on the conditions given by Puteri Gunung Ledang to Sultan Mahmud Shah when he asked for her hand in marriage, and no because the setting of the story is generations after the setting of the legend in 1488. The Throne of Ledang is a totally new work of fiction in extension to the original Puteri Gunung Ledang, and set in 1875.
This book was slightly difficult to get into at the beginning because I didn’t really know what to expect. I had the impression it was going to be a rather heavy story.
“From this day forth I shall no longer be known as Radin Mas Merah. You may call me Ibunda.”
But as I went on, it was certainly very far from that. The Throne of Ledang is engrossing and educational. Even though it is fictional, it is so satisfying to learn on the many things the Malaysian community was involved in at that point of time. Be it strong bonds of brotherhood, the colonization of the British, Islamic teachings, the use of black magic, traditional medicine, or even silat, the Malay art of self-defense – there was never a dull chapter. It was full of great discoveries, adventures and so much learning! You would be glued to it for hours.
The author went in depth on slavery in Malaya too, which is often not talked about. The breakdown of why and how it was practiced – you would be caught taking sides and debating in your head. You will find yourself forming your own opinions, as you take in more and more of such pressing issues along the way.
In between all that “heaviness”, you will find fun riddles and heart-warming romance which is sure to keep you entertained. Blossoming friendships, acceptance among young children and the teamwork among villagers – the entire community setting brings a homely feel to the story.
“Wouldn’t be lovely if we could live up there among the stars?” Purnama asked.
Nothing but love for this book. I highly recommend this to everyone – those in search for something closer to home and to readers out there who are interested in a glimpse of Malaysian folklore! You will be enlightened, amazed and engrossed.
And in the blink of an eye, she was gone.
Here’s to many, many more great local reads ahead!
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I would like to thank the author, Iskandar Al-Bakri, for this review copy in exchange for my honest review! Iskandar Al-Bakri is also the writer of The Beruas Prophecy.