The first time I got my hands on Iskandar Al-Bakri’s “The Throne of Ledang” I thought it would be the same old yarn about the elusive princess, Puteri Gunung Ledang. However, after flipping through the pages it dawned on me that there was more to it than just a tale of a beautiful maiden up on Gunong Ledang.
Throne of Ledang is set in a mythical kingdom known as Indera Sakti circa 1875, at about the time of Perak’s British Resident JWW Birch’s murder.
Being familiar with Puteri Gunung Ledang’s folklore, I am sure everyone knows about the 26-mile golden bridge and how it was built. Throne of Ledang tells the story of a young rope maker, Izz and a slave, Purnama, and their quest for the bridge.
It also relates the lifestyle of the society at that time; how they ate rice out of coconut shells, the amount of work they did in the jungle and the kind of entertainment they indulged in.
A keen storyteller, Iskandar takes his readers into the world of the unknown. To touch on a topic that is rarely talked about, he makes slavery in the 19th century a topic worth knowing.
He adds intimate conversations such as, “wouldn’t it be lovely if we could live up there among the stars?” making it more personal to readers since we all often make that wish.
Descriptions like “her skin was clear, unblemished and her lips were the colour of the reddest ruby” made it more captivating for readers. The language and phrases used are poetic and some are gems to be cherished.
Readers would be amazed by how much research Iskandar did for this story while the twists and turns in the storyline are simply enthralling. Metaphors definitely play a role in defining the book plus readers’ perception of the Puteri Gunung Ledang’s legend that is being passed from generation to generation. Remember the seven conditions Sultan Mahmud Syah had to complete in order to marry Puteri Gunung Ledang? Iskandar defines it as a metaphor, meaning the conditions actually represented something else instead, like unity. Or the equality between male and female. So the golden bridge did not have to be built in order to complete the conditions. It is what it means beyond it that matters.
Apart from being a good read, the 229-page paperback is also a good companion.It is a romp through myth and magic and can be read anywhere and at anytime.
The best part about the book is it surprises and leaves you spellbound. Is there truth about the golden bridge? Or is it merely symbolic of something deeper and more sinister? To find out more, get “The Throne of Ledang” (ISBN: 978-602-7677-76-0) published by Gre Publishing and priced at RM30 at your nearest bookstore.
Iskandar’s first novel, “The Beruas Prophecy” was published in 2011.