A unique work of fantasy fiction based on real beliefs, taboos and terminology of the Iban to weave an epic tale of good versus evil.
The book reads like a fairy tale; descriptive and lacking the intimacy of dialogues. However, I think this is an appropriate tone for a book that targets a younger audience. And yet, the richness of cultural and mythical description keeps a curious adult interested in the book. The story unfolds quickly and I feel that a lot happened in a book that is a few counts shy of 300 pages.
I love finding out about the Iban beliefs, presented in a folklore / legend / myth. I can't help but wish I can be more personally attached to the hero, Bujang Maias, via a more fiction-styled writing. Some parts of the writing did veer towards humanising the characters more and you get a touch of realism in the characters but then the author starts to describe the details of rituals and rites and actions in a somewhat dry manner that washed away the intimacy a reader was beginning to get.
For a fan of myths and culture, I still enjoy the information the book is saturated in but I am not sure people who expect to read a fantasy-fiction would be so entertained by the somewhat dryness of the retelling of this Iban legend.
By the end of the book, I am raring to find out more about the culture and beliefs of our Borneo part of Malaysia but there lacks for me the bitter-sweet end of a literary journey with a hero.
I am, however, duly afraid of Hornbills after reading the book.