August 20, 2001 12:00 PM

by Arabella Edge

Here’s what’s missing from Survivor: A psychotic pharmacist takes ruthless control of his fellow castaways, poisons the sick, orders his band of dissolute thugs to murder the disobedient and has the women jailed as sex slaves. Okay, that scenario may be a little too over-the-top, even for cable. But it actually happened in 1629, when the Dutch East India Company’s Batavia ran aground off the coast of Australia. In this fictionalized revisit, Amsterdam apothecary Jeronimus Cornelisz, on the run from authorities, disguises himself as a merchant and ships out for the Spice Islands. Ever the schemer, our man plots a mutiny to commandeer the Batavia’s vast treasures. A storm and an uncharted coral reef intrude—and the rest is history, savagely imagined and lyrically told. (Simon & Schuster, $23)

Bottom Line: Gilligan’s evil ancestor

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