The year is 1624. In southwestern Taiwan the Dutch establish a trading settlement; in Nagasaki a boy is born who will become immortalized as Ming dynasty loyalist Koxinga. Lord of Formosa tells the intertwined stories of Koxinga and the Dutch colony from their beginnings to their fateful climax in 1662. The year before, as Ming China collapsed in the face of the Manchu conquest, Koxinga retreated across the Taiwan Strait intent on expelling the Dutch. Thus began a nine-month battle for Fort Zeelandia, the single most compelling episode in the history of Taiwan. The first major military clash between China and Europe, it is a tale of determination, courage, and betrayal – a battle of wills between the stubborn Governor Coyett and the brilliant but volatile Koxinga. Although the story has been told in non-fiction works, these have suffered from a lack of sources on Koxinga as the little we know of him comes chiefly from his enemies.
While adhering to the historical facts, author Joyce Bergvelt sympathetically and intelligently fleshes out Koxinga. From his loving relationship with his Japanese mother, estrangement from his father (a Chinese merchant pirate), to his struggle with madness, we have the first rounded, intimate portrait of the man.
Dutch-born Bergvelt draws on her journalism background, Chinese language and history studies, and time in Taiwan, to create an irresistible panorama of memorable characters caught up in one of the seventeenth century’s most fascinating dramas.