The Lord of Opium

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The Lord Of Opium
The Lord of Opium front cover .jpg
Front cover of The Lord Of Opium.
AuthorNancy Farmer
Cover artistMike Rosamilia
CountryUnited States
GenreYoung adult, Science fiction novel
PublisherAtheneum Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages405 pp
LC ClassPZ7.F23814Lor2013

The Lord Of Opium is a 2013 science fiction novel by Nancy Farmer and is the sequel to the 2002 novel The House of the Scorpion. The book was first published on September 3, 2013 by Atheneum Books and follows the ongoing adventures of Matteo "Matt" Alacran.[1]


Raised as a clone of El Patrón, the ruler of the land of Opium, fourteen-year-old Matt is not entirely ready to fill the shoes of his predecessor. The daily struggles of the ruling are made even more difficult by the desperation of the people living in the lands surrounding his, as an ecological disaster has ravaged them almost to the point of no return. His enemies are many, but Matt finds himself equally afraid of his own potential to become every bit as bloodthirsty and ruthless as the tyrant he was cloned from.


Of the book, Farmer stated that she had never intended to create a sequel to The House of the Scorpion, as the writing process for the novel had depressed her.[2] As a result, she began work on the Trolls Trilogy, but soon found that she wanted to revisit the world of the previous novel in order to resolve problems that remained at the end of Scorpion.[2] Farmer began working on the novel in 2008 and the working title was God's Ashtray. Farmer wrote 80 pages of the book before having to stop due to an illness.[3] When her health was better, Farmer tried to resume writing, but was exhausted after moving from California to Arizona.[3] She was at last revived by listening to music and was able to finish the novel.[3]


Critical reception of The Lord of Opium has been favorable, with starred reviews in Publishers' Weekly, which hailed it as a "superb novel ...well worth the wait," and Booklist, which described it as "a brilliantly realized world," and "a stellar sequel." Kathleen Beck, in VOYA, judged the story "stronger and more cohesive, the moral questions more subtle than in House Of The Scorpion." Even those reviewers who did not admire the book as much as its predecessor, found it an enjoyable read.[4][5] Commonsensemedia gave The Lord of Opium four out of five stars, stating that the "Sci-fi sequel is gripping but can't top original."[6] Jonathan Hunt reviewed the novel for both the School Library Journal and the Horn Book magazine,[7] and noted that the "landscape of dystopian literature has changed significantly since the first book, but this sequel is still a cut above the rest."[8]


  1. ^ Review: The Lord of Opium. Booklist. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b Levy, Mike. "Q & A with Nancy Farmer". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Maughan, Shannon. "Nancy Farmer Returns with 'Scorpion' Sequel". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  4. ^ "Review: The Lord of Opium". SLJ (Book Verdict). Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Review: The Lord of Opium". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Review: The Lord of Opium". Commonsensemedia. September 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  7. ^ Hunt, Jonathan. "Revisiting Sequels: Larson, Farmer, Gantos". SLJ. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  8. ^ Hunt, Jonathan (Sep–Oct 2013). "Review: The Lord of Opium". The Horn Book Magazine. 89 (5): 95. Retrieved 12 February 2014.