A very bloody mutiny
The book tells the true story of the Dutch East India ship ‘Batavia’, in 1628/9, on a voyage from Holland to Java. Before it can reach it’s destination it runs aground on some coral reefs off the west coast of Australia. The ship sinks and most of the crew and passengers make land on some nearby barren and waterless islands. The merchant in charge of the ship and nearly 50 of survivors take the long boat and sail to Java to get help.
Unknown, to the merchant, the wreck had stopped the under merchant, one Jeronimus Cornelisz, a man of heretical views, from launching a mutiny on the ship. As the voyage had progressed, vermin, heat, rivalry and sexual jealousies had begun to tear at the crew and passengers.
Now on the island (the Batavia’s Graveyard of the title), Cornelisz, a physical coward himself, surrounds himself with armed thugs, and starts a reign of terror, murdering anyone he wishes to have out of the way. And at his command his men have to murder to prove their loyalty him, or the same fate will await them.
Cornelisz knows that torture and a public execution await him should he ever be captured alive by the expected relief ship.
This is a compelling story - well written and researched, about a truly bloody incident on a tiny speck of land thousands of miles from help.