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Literature / Sandokan

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Sandokan is the eponymous protagonist of a series of adventure novels by Italian writer Emilio Salgari, published between 1895 and 1913. Set in and around the Indian Ocean, the novels tell Sandokan's story, starting from his pirate career to avenge his father, a Bornean rajah killed by a white man in the employ of the East India Company. Alongside him we find Yanez de Gomera (the only white man of Sandokan's pirate gang and his second in command), Tremal Naik (a former professional tiger hunter fighting the Thuggee cult), Kammamuri (Tremal Naik's servant), and Sambigliong (the most important of the pirates after Sandokan and Yanez).The novels still enjoy great popularity in Italy, and there are various animated and live action movies and series inspired to it (plus a great number of novels written by other authors).


  1. The Tigers of Mompracem ("Le Tigri di Mompracem"; it's sometimes listed as third in the series, as it was published in volume after The Mystery of the Black Jungle and The Pirates of Malaysia)
  2. The Mystery of the Black Jungle ("I Misteri della Giungla Nera"; originally a stand-alone novel with Tremal Naik as protagonist, was retroactively incorporated in the series after The Pirates of Malaysia)
  3. The Pirates of Malaysia ("I Pirati della Malesia")
  4. The Two Tigers ("Le Due Tigri")
  5. The King of the Sea ("Il Re del Mare")
  6. Quest for a Throne ("Alla Conquista di un Impero")
  7. Sandokan Fights Back ("Sandokan alla Riscossa")
  8. Return to Mompracem ("La Riconquista di Mompracem")
  9. The Brahman ("Il Bramino dell'Assam")
  10. An Empire Crumbles ("La Caduta di un Impero")
  11. Yanez's Revenge ("La Rivincita di Yanez")

Animated adaptations:

The novels contain examples of the following tropes:

  • Animal Motifs:
    • Apart the tiger motif, explicitly used with Sandokan (the Tiger of Malaysia), Yanez (sometimes called the White Tiger, as he's a white man and Sandokan's brother in everything but blood), their pirates (the Tigers of Mompracem) and Suyodhana (the Tiger of India. Bonus point for him and Sandokan having been represented with the bodies of actual tigers in the cover of the first edition of The Two Tigers) and implicitly for Marianna (implied by Sandokan's flag, that changed from a single head of tiger in red field in The Tigers of Mompracem to three heads of tiger in the other novels, representing Sandokan, Yanez and the now late Marianna), The British Empire has both a lion and leopard motif, to the point that Sandokan and Yanez often use 'lion' and 'leopard' in place of 'Englishman'.
    • Some of the Tigers of Mompracem have their own personal motifs: a character that dies shielding Sandokan from a bullet was known only as Sea Spider, while the pirate Sangan (never seen but mentioned to have died in the fall of Mompracem) was nicknamed 'The Lion of the Romades Islands'.
  • Anachronism Stew: Maxim machine guns and turreted ironclad battleships are major plot drivers, but the action of the novels is set in the 1849-1857 period. First ocean-going ironclad warships Gloire and HMS Warrior sailed in 1858 and 1860, revolving gun turrets had been invented in 1861, Gatling guns also in 1861, Maxim guns in 1884. Emilio Salgari was writing of military technology popular in his time, but imagined it put to use 30 years before.
  • Animated Adaptation: Two in The 90s, the one with its own entry and an Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation which takes place in a World of Funny Animals - Sandokan and his men are anthropomorphized tigers, while Big Bad The Rajah of Sarawak is a cat.
  • Ascended Extra: James Brooke, the historical first White Rajah of Sarawak, was a minor character in the novels, being only mentioned in The Tigers of Mompracem as a fierce enemy of the pirates and in Guillonk's backstory, the villain in the second half of The Pirates of Malaysia (and would have been dealt swiftly if lord Guillonk didn't happen to visit right as Yanez was making a fool of him), and a mention in The King of the Sea as the uncle of the new White Rajah. The various animated series and live action series and movies make him Sandokan's main adversary.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Salgari was a fierce opponent of colonialism. Whenever a colonial power appeared in his novels (both in the Sandokan series and the others series and stand-alone novels) they were shown either as Well Intentioned Extremists who genuinely believed they were doing the right thing or greedy cowards.
    • Italian media of the time tended to praise brawn over brain. Salgari had the habit of thrusting Sandokan into situations where Yanez's smarts were more useful than his considerable strength and skill, and in The Tigers of Mompracem used Marianna and Yanez to call him an idiot when he decided to kill a tiger with a knife (Marianna tried and shot the tiger to prevent Sandokan from facing a tiger in melee combat, and told him to his face) and wait the dawn to cripple a British gunship because he wanted to show off his wife (Yanez pestered him to hurry up and shoot the damn cruiser, as he was good enough a shot to do it with the moonlight, and continued 'till dawn). Thankfully with time Sandokan smarted up, to the point that by Yanez's Revenge he kept an expert of biological weapons in case of an outbreak of war with a foreign power or some idiot tried to dethrone Yanez (said idiot saw his army literally shit itself to death when the expert caused a Cholera epidemics. Sandokan and Yanez's troops were vaccinated).
  • Badass Boast:
    • Sandokan has the habit of boasting he could do something apparently impossible... And then do it. Among these boasts, the most notable are his casual mention he felt capable of killing a tiger (that was when he found that 'present' for Marianna: he told it to lord Guillonk, then his host, who promptly invited him to a tiger hunt), notable because he was still recovering from being shot and nearly drowning, or his boast he alone was more than enough to thwart a pursuit from a British gunship (he crippled it with a single grenade on a paddlewheel, after waiting for dawn to show the enemy crew his wife as added insult), notable not only for the fact that a single man defeated a warship but because Yanez's reaction (he was quite annoyed at Sandokan for waiting so long, giving the enemy the chance to sink them with a lucky shot) implied it's almost normal occurrence.
    • Kammamuri often remarks he's a Maratha. The Maratha Confederacy was the dominant power in India until the end of the Anglo-Maratha Wars (in which they still gave the East India Company a run for their money before ceding their prominence), and they still were a major force in the Uprising of 1857, with the British openly admitting their most dangerous foe were Rani Lakshmibai, queen of Jhansi, and general Tatya Tope, both Maratha, and with the ending narration of The Two Tigers openly declaring that the Uprising fall of Delhi did not end with the fall of Delhi but with the death in battle of the Rani of Jhansi.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Sandokan and Yanez. Completely different in personality, but they'd die before leaving the other in trouble. Bonus points for actually calling each other brothers.
    • The Tigers of Mompracem are this on a larger scale, being pirates from many ethnic groups (mostly Malays and Dayaks) that would normally kill each other on sight (Truth in Television: Malays and Dayaks went out of their way to attack each other, with James Brooke actually using Malay forces to take down the main Dayak pirate band and Dayak forces to destroy the main Malay pirate group).
  • Big Damn Heroes: In more than one occasion the heroes or an ally is in serious trouble when someone arrives and rescue them. The most impressive example is from The King of the Sea: Yanez and seven Tigers of Mompracem were on a ship about to be boarded by an horde of Dayaks when a passing ironclad warship witnessed an European in trouble and sank the Dayaks.
  • Boring, but Practical: The King of the Sea reveals that most of Sandokan's immense fortune is kept safe in one or more banking accounts in neutral countries (what he has at Mompracem is just petty cash), and that he gave Yanez the cheque book in case the 'petty cash' he had with him (a small fortune) wasn't enough to buy whatever Yanez considered necessary, like food, gunpowder, or an ironclad warship.
    • The same novel reveals that Suyodhana did the same with the Thuggee's own fortune, with only him and the Pilgrim knowing about it until the Pilgrim, after Suyodhana's death, revealed it to his secret son and successor James Moreland - allowing the Thuggee Cult to provide one last challenge even after being dismantled.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: The Tigers of Mompracem offers a strange example: Sandokan expects the commander of the ship he's using to shield him from incoming bullets (it's all but stated that it's part of their rules), and even reprimands him when he fails to do so and another pirate dies in his place.
  • But Not Too Foreign:
    • Marianna's mother was half-Italian, and Marianna herself was born in Naples.
    • Ada Corishant too: being the daughter of Marianna's maternal uncle and an Indian woman she's one quarter Italian, one quarter English and two quarters Indian.
  • Butt-Monkey: The British frequently come across as this during the novels, failing repeatedly to capture Sandokan and having their plans disrupted in the most unexpected of ways by Sandokan. The Dutch appear like this as well to the protagonists, although they aren't as vigorous in pursuing Sandokan compared to the British.
  • Canon Welding: The Tigers of Mompracem was originally a stand-alone story, and The Mystery of the Black Jungle meant to start a novel series. Then the publisher asked Salgari to write another novel with Sandokan, and Salgari welded the two novels in the same canon.
  • Child Soldier: Marianna first embarked on a warship when she was 10, and stayed there until she was 13. It's implied that Lord Guillonk settled down with her because he had suddenly realized what he had done.
  • Cliffhanger: Three novels end into one:
    • The Mystery of the Black Jungle ends with Tremal Naik and the British troops freeing Ada from the Thuggee and escaping their temple while Suyodhana says "Go! We'll meet again in the jungle!", and it isn't until The Pirates of Malaysia that we find out what happened: Suyodhana and the Thuggee ambushed the British troops in the jungle and exterminated them, recapturing Ada and framing Tremal Naik for being a Thuggee. Kammamuri later succeeded in freeing Ada, but the Thuggee drove her to madness, and The Pirates of Malaysia opens with their vessel shipwrecked on Mompracem, recently recaptured by the pirates, after a storm;
    • The Brahman and An Empire Crumbles had originally been written as a single novel but were published separated by decision of the publisher, resulting in this;
    • The final scene of An Empire Crumbles is the first scene of Yanez's Revenge, but with the point of view switched from Yanez to Sandokan.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Happens to unlucky prisoners who don't want to spill the beans. The one who got it worse is the Meccan Pilgrim, who, captured by Yanez and the original (American) crew of the King of the Sea, was subjected to the water cure by the Americans and broke just as Yanez begged them to stop.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Sandokan may be a badass, but he and his men will bring along overwhelming firepower every time they can. It's not clear who is more pragmatic between Sandokan and Yanez: in The King of the Sea the latter bought the eponymous ship, an ironclad warship that outgunned anything the Royal Navy had in the Indian Ocean, and managed to equip it with a Mad Scientist who claimed having invented a Ray Gun that could blow up the magazines of opposing ships (when tested, his device worked); the former showed up in Yanez's Revenge with a small army of Dayaks (also known as head hunters) armed with repeating rifles, a dozen machine guns and a scientist specialized in biological warfare.
    • Sandokan is at the wrong end of the very first example of the series: in The Pirates of Mompracem he has a run-in with a British steam-powered warship, who would use her superior firepower to engage the pirates from distance and the steam propulsion to keep the distance and avoid a boarding that would have given victory to Sandokan. It's mentioned that Sandokan and his pirates started cursing and telling very unkind things at the ship the first time she pulled this.
  • Composite Character: Lord Guillonk's character is often fused into James Brooke's in retellings.
  • Cool Boat:
    • Many (after all, the series is mostly set at sea), but the ships of the Tigers of Mompracem in general and Sandokan and Yanez' personal ships in the third, fourth and fifth novel (the Marianna in "The Pirates of Malaysia" and the two Pearl of Labuan in "The Two Tigers" and "The King of the Sea") take the cake, being the fusion of the traditional Malaysian proas (spelled praho in the series) with European shipbuilding techniques to obtain ships far faster, better armed and tougher than any sailing vessel of similar size.
    • The King of the Sea from the novel of the same name: an ironclad warship originally named Nebraska and built in Oregon for the Sultan of Shemmeridan, it's literally the mightiest ship of the whole world, with thicker armor, larger main guns (four of them in two turrets) and greater speed than anything anyone else had built to that point. As soon as he learns that the new Sultan of Shemmeridan refused to buy it (and left the builders the money paid in advance), Yanez bought it for twice the requested price-and found out the ship was so invincible he had still bought it cheap.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Sandokan and his crew tend to prepare for anything. They are imprisoned in a chamber being filled with water? Instant bomb to open the way. The Royal Navy is about to attack Mompracem? Royal Navy, meet King of the Sea, Sandokan's new ironclad warship that outguns anything in the East Indies Station. East Indies Station has surrounded Sandokan's ironclad with five warships on par with the King of the Se-HOLY CRAP, HOW DID THAT BRITISH SHIP EXPLODE WITH NO APPARENT CAUSE?!
  • Crossover: The Pirates of Malaysia is this, providing the first meeting between the Tigers of Mompracem (from the novel with the same name) and Tremal Naik, Kammamuri, Darma (the tiger) and Ada Corishant (from The Mystery of the Black Jungle).
  • Cruel Elephant: Referenced and downplayed: there are two cautionary tales warning to not provoke elephants, for they are intelligent and calm but, being intelligent, also capable of cruel retaliations if provoked long enough:
    • One elephant had the habit of reaching with its trunk into the windows of various houses, knowing the locals would give him gifts... All except for a seamstress, who'd instead sting him repeatedly as a game until the day the elephant showed up with a trunk full of water and sprayed her at full power.
    • An elephant conductor had the habit of breaking coconuts on his elephant's head, knowing he could take it and ignoring his annoyed grumbles. One day, however, the elephant grabbed the coconut and broke it on his head, killing him.
  • Damsel out of Distress:
    • Marianna can be kidnapped, as her physical strength is that of a young and very short woman, but she knows how to use guns (normally a muzzle-loader hunting carbine, but she even manned a cannon, in the tv movies), and has no qualms at using them. Heck, her first reaction at Sandokan announcing his intention to kill a tiger with a knife to gift her the skin was to grab a gun to try and hunt down the tiger to prevent Sandokan from risking his life. Part of why she fell for Sandokan was that he was the first man other than her uncle (who taught her how to shoot) who accepted that side of her.
    • In The King of the Sea Darma, Tremal Naik's daughter, proves she has grown into this when her reaction to attacking Dayaks is to use them to prove herself a crack shot. She still got kidnapped by overwhelming numbers, but she made them pay for that in blood.
  • Dated History: While Salgari must be given credit for putting more effort into research than most adventure writers of his time, he still couldn't afford to travel outside Italy to confirm the information he gathered from local libraries and bookstores, so it was inevitable that he would sometimes get the facts wrong, such as the location of a lake or the range of a species of wild pig.
  • Demoted to Extra: Tremal Naik was the protagonist in his first appearance in The Mystery of the Black Jungle, but became a secondary character since The Pirates of Malaysia.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Sometimes a character is faced with something he couldn't have possibly anticipated, like the Dayaks being attacked by a passing ironclad warship (The King of the Sea) or Sandokan using cholera against Yanez's enemies (Yanez's Revenge).
  • Dime Novel: The series was one of their Italian equivalents. Differently from your typical Dime Novel, the characterization is rather good, female characters aren't always The Load (and in fact Marianna, the single most important female character in the series, is a crack shot), and the characters tended to win more thanks to brains and firepower than through sheer courage.
  • The Dreaded: Sandokan, and for good reasons.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Yanez normally has little problems torturing informations out of an enemy, but he was appalled when the original American crew of the King of the Sea subjected the fake Meccan Pilgrim to the water cure.
  • Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Subverted: Sandokan and his men are all armed with the kris, but they all live in the region where this weapon comes from and is common.
  • A Father to His Men: Sandokan treats his men very well, and they love him to the point he can (and does) order one of them to shield him from bullets with his body and he'll obey without question, even apologizing if another pirate dies in their place shielding Sandokan.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: Sandokan and the survivors of the Tigers of Mompracem in Quest for a Throne, Sandokan Fights Back and Return to Mompracem: after being chased out of Mompracem in The King of the Sea, the Tigers search for a place to call home. Subverted in the end: while they conquered Assam in Quest for a Throne (it happened that Yanez's wife had a claim to that throne) and took back Sandokan's ancestral homeland in Sandokan Fights Back, they can't find a place to call home, and as soon as the East India Company gives away Mompracem they reconquer it from the Sultan of Brunei.
  • Flynning: Averted in the books (not so much in the adaptations): sword and knife fights are short and tend to end with someone stabbed in the guts or the chest, and when Sandokan fights a tiger with a knife he doesn't wrestle the beast (as happens in other series where someone knife-fights a dangerous animal) but rushes it while it's distracted before stabbing it the heart.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Tremal Naik's pet is a tiger, and treats her like a cuddly cat who can also guard his home. Kammamuri qualifies too, as he's the one who cares for the tiger when Tremal Naik isn't around.
  • Girls with Guns: Marianna is quite a good shot with a carbine. Darma (Tremal Naik's daughter) is a crack shot.
  • Great White Hunter:
    • A few tiger hunts are shown. Sandokan, Tremal Naik and Kammamuri fail to qualify due not being white (even if Tremal Naik used to hunt tigers for a living), but we still have lord Guillonk, Yanez (who will mock the tiger before shooting it if he deems it safe), Marianna, and others.
    • British officers are mentioned as hunting man-eating tigers in their free time.
  • Guile Hero: Yanez. While Sandokan is no idiot, it's Yanez who does most of the thinking and deals with outsmarting enemies.
  • Heroic Build: Novels, films and animated adaptations outline as much as possible Sandokan's great physical strength, but give him the appearance of an Indian / European strongman. Even better in the 1970s Italian mini-series, where he's played by the Indian actor Kabir Bedi. Among native Malaysian people 6-ft-plus strongmen are rare even today.
  • Kick the Dog: Lord Guillonk was willing to kill Marianna, his niece, before letting her marry Sandokan, and would have done so if Yanez didn't headbutt him into submission when he tried.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Sandokan will try and avoid a battle he can't win, and retreat when he gets his ass kicked, if only to return in force and take revenge.
  • The Lost Lenore: Sandokan's dead relatives and Marianna (from The Pirates of Malaysia) are this for Sandokan, who tend to mention both at least once for novel (Marianna even had three ships named after her). Ada Corishant becomes this for Tremal Naik but in a lesser way, as he still has a daughter from her.
  • Mad Scientist: The series has two. The first is Paddy O'Brien, the self-styled Demon of War, who appears in The King of the Sea and comes equipped with a Death Ray capable of igniting explosives (including munition magazines on enemy ships) from long distances. The other, appearing in Yanez's Revenge, is Wan Horn, a microbiologist whose contribution to Sandokan and Yanez's cause is destroying an enemy army with a cholera outbreak.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Sandokan's named ships have meaningful names. His ship in The Pirates of Malaysia, the Pearl of Labuan, is named after his now late wife Marianna Guillonk, also known as the Pearl of Labuan for her beauty. The ship that replaced Pearl of Labuan in The Two Tigers is named Marianna, as Yanez's ship in The King of the Sea (that novel made clear there were two identical ships named Marianna in Sandokan's fleet). The novel The King of the Sea has a magnificent example: Yanez and Sandokan get the chance to buy the Nebraska, an American-built ironclad warship superior to anything else in the Indian Ocean that had been built for a sultan (who had already paid it) and refused by his successor, and renamed it King of the Sea to express their intention to rule on the routes of the Indian Ocean until the British and Suyodhana's son begged for mercy or they got sunk.
    • Tremal Naik's daughter is named after his tiger. She's actually more dangerous than the tiger, as she's a crack shot and the tiger isn't.
  • Mighty Whitey: Various examples, including the historical character of James Brooke. Yanez is the most prominent, both for being the co-protagonist and the only white man who was captured by the Tigers of Mompracem and lived without paying a ransom. Yanez's improbable survival of his initial encounter with the pirates is lampshaded when he himself explains Kammamuri that the Tigers of Mompracem never spare white men and Kammamuri notes that Yanez, while white, has just led the pirates that attacked the ship he was on. Yanez replied he was a special case.
  • Military Brat: Marianna. After the death of her parents she was raised by her uncle, lord James Guillonk, who was about to cruise the Indian Ocean to scour it from pirates. He brought her along, resulting in her being a very good shot (and probably having manned the cannon once or twice back then) and a very impolite and ferocious little monster when her uncle settled down in Labuan, giving him an hard time teaching her the manners of a lady.
  • Mooks: Various, depending on the novel. Bonus point for the Thuggee cultists in The Mystery of the Black Jungle and The Two Tigers for being the origin of the word 'thug' and actually be called thugs by the author.
  • Morality Pet: Marianna. To keep her safe, Sandokan quit piracy and went to Java with his surviving pirates at the end of The Tigers of Mompracem, but after her death in a cholera outbreak Sandokan raised a new pirate band and returned to Mompracem.
  • More Dakka:
    • The main advantage of the British.
    • Sandokan too is a fan, and whenever he can he'll field Maxim machine guns.
  • Multinational Team: The Tigers of Mompracem: the core group is composed by Malays and Dayaks (Sandokan being a Dayak himself), but we also have people from other ethnic groups, the mentioned ones being Chinese, Javanese, Bugis, Indian (including, at one point, a Thuggee), and even white men (besides Yanez, the crew of the King of the Sea included a group of Americans)
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • We have the Tiger of Malaysia (Sandokan), the Hunter of Tigers and Snakes of the Black Jungle (Tremal Naik), the Tiger of India (Suyodhana), and the Head Hunters (a nickname of the Dayak people, who, before being stopped by retaliations from James Brooke and European colonial powers, had the habit to raid places with the only purpose of cutting heads).
    • Paddy O'Brien, a Mad Scientist appearing in The King of the Sea, presented himself as the Demon of War. He proved he deserved this name.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis: Suyodhana will do everything to get his enemies killed, and will make sure they stay dead. Case in point, his initial treatment of Tremail Naik, that at the time he considered nothing more than a slight annoyance rather than the worst enemy the Thuggee cult could ever make: while he could have beaten him in a fair fight (as he actually ended up doing off-page), when they first met he had him immobilized by two dozen men using bola-like garrotes before putting a knife in his heart and leaving him to the wild tigers, and when the body disappeared and two of his men ended up dead he correctly deduced Tremal Naik had somehow survived (the knife was deviated by a rib and didn't get the heart), sent one of his best men to check his house, and upon receiving confirmation he was indeed alive he ordered him to finish him off before he could recover.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain:
    • At first baronet William Rosenthal seems to be just an obnoxious young noble who planned to make a career in the Royal Navy thanks to his status as a noble and acted rude towards Guillonk's guest (Sandokan, found near dead and healed by Guillonk and family after a bad run-in with a British cruiser) due to his noble upbringing. He's in fact the captain of the cruiser that had nearly killed Sandokan, and that didn't actually hate him until he realized where he had already seen him. There's even a good chance he had been the one who actually wounded Sandokan in that battle...
    • Sindhia, the Rajah of Assam and Surama's cousin who sold her to the Thuggee. He's initially presented as an idiot and a borderline madman, depending on his adviser Teotokris for actual rule. Yet he easily disposed of his predecessor by duping him into not killing him immediately and giving him a gun, and upon breaking out of the asylum he had been sent after being deposed he practically dethroned Yanez by stealing him most of his popular support and building an army under his nose, only losing due Sandokan showing up with a Plague Master. Also, comparing the approximate date of his accession to the Assam throne with Real Life events, he actually extended his dominion, somehow taking back the whole Assam from the East India Company (who had come to annex the whole Assam and restored the previous dynasty in Upper Assam only).
  • Number Two: Sambigliong, the third in command of the Tigers of Mompracem, is this to both Sandokan and Yanez.
  • Oh, Crap!: The usual reaction at someone discovering that Sandokan is around. Also the Thuggee's reaction when they discovered that Tremal Naik had a pet tiger.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Tremal Naik named his daughter Darma after his tiger, and they both appeared in The Two Tigers and The King of the Sea before the tiger got shot.
  • Papa Wolf: Tremal Naik. The obliteration of any organized Thuggee cult was the direct consequence of the Thuggee kidnapping his daughter, resulting in Tremal Naik calling Sandokan as reinforcement before murdering a third of the cult (and having the Tigers of Mompracem murder another third) and destroy their headquarter while he searched for his daughter in spite of a war raging on, until he and the Tigers cornered Suyodhana in the besieged Delhi and Tremal Naik murdered the local Thuggees as Sandokan dueled their boss. The Thuggee could have recovered from both Suyodhana's death and the losses from joining the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (a very justified choice, given that the British were already slowly dismantling the cult), but not from that.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Suyodhana is stated to be very short-and when he fought the much larger and incredibly strong Tremal Naik one-on-one he not only gave him such a beating that the next time they meet Tremal Naik sends Sandokan forward, but he did it while holding back against an enemy trying to kill him (Suyodhana had decided Tremal Naik did not deserve a quick death).
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
    • The Tigers of Mompracem stopped raiding commerce sometime between The Pirates of Malaysia and The Two Tigers, resuming in The King of the Sea only because the Royal Navy decided to kick them out of Mompracem. After The King of the Sea they don't do the pirate job anymore save for a single boarding in Return to Mompracem.
    • Sandokan is implied to be a Dayak, but never cut a single head.
  • Plague Master: In Yanez's Revenge Sandokan shows up with Wan Horn, a biologist specialized in biological warfare. The enemy army literally craps itself to death after said biologist caused an epidemics of cholera among them.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • The Tigers are Crazy-Prepared because they have seen or read what modern (for the time) technology could do and expect the Royal Navy to attack them in any moment (even when they have no more reason to do it), and tend to collect anything that could be useful, like the King of the Sea (bought by Yanez when he encountered her by chance) or a mad scientist claiming his electrical device can blow up enemy ships' magazines (guess what blew up that ship...), even if they don't really believe in it (the mad scientist. Yanez was skeptical, but suggested to keep him just in case). They also tend to not be surprised when Sandokan shows off (the most surprise he ever got from him was mild astonishment the first time he broke some chains and a question about overkill when he resorted to biological warfare to help Yanez).
    • The Royal Navy too. One of their officers, after having captured Sandokan and put him in chains, approached him with two rifle-armed sailors and fully armed, even without knowing that Sandokan had broken the chains just to prove he could to one of his pirates captured with him. When Sandokan faked his death, the lieutenant was willing to throw the body in the sea to prevent it being desecrated, but he first had the ship's surgeon check if he was really dead (he wasn't, but the poison was very good at making appear he was).
    • Even the lowly soldiers of the British Empire are this. That time Sandokan and Yanez hid in a stove, a group of soldiers looked at the stove, concluded it was too small for two grow men to hide in it, and then checked anyway for good measure. If it wasn't for the horrible lighting, Sandokan and Yanez would have died then and there, not by the hand of some formidable warrior but shot by some lowly soldiers who used their brains.
  • Rated M for Manly: All the time: Italian dime novels of the time were heavy on this, and while Salgari favoured brain over brawn he also gave his characters the physical feats to go with their brains. Case in point, Sandokan can kill a tiger with a knife, and Tremal Naik used to do it for a living.
  • Red Baron: Sandokan, Suyodhana, Tremal Naik and James Brooke are known as the Tiger of Malaysia, the Tiger of India, the Hunter of Tigers and Snakes of the Black Jungle and the White Rajah of Sarawak.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Sambigliong, a Tiger of Mompracem that debuted in The Pirates of Malaysia and Sandokan's third in command since that novel, is mentioned as one of the then-unnamed pirates that ambushed Lord Guillonk in The Tigers of Mompracem. This is particularly notable because there already was a named character, Juioko, known to have taken part to that ambush and survive the fall of Mompracem, but him and the other named pirates would not be mentioned anymore.
  • Retcon: A few. It's mainly with the dates, that in the first novels are changed to fit the historical events Salgari is mentioning (novels following The Two Tigers, whose finale is set in late september-early october 1857, respect real world history), but Sambigliong was switched from Dayak (The Pirates of Malaysia and The Two Tigers) to Malayan (from The King of the Sea onward), and in The Tigers of Mompracem Sandokan was not the dispossessed son of the murdered rajah Kaidagan (first mentioned in Sandokan Fights Back, when Sandokan finally kills his murderer) but the dispossessed rajah of Lake Kini Balù himself.
  • The Rival: Baronet William Rosenthal is this for Sandokan in The Pirates of Mompracem, kicking his ass in battle even before being introduced (it helped that his cruiser outgunned Sandokan's two prahos by a fair margin, but he had to fight it smart to avoid a boarding until it would be useless) and trying to woo Marianna.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Sandokan's reason for being a pirate is to take revenge on those who funded the murderer of his father. The second part of The King of the Sea is one such rampage against British trade in revenge for the unprovoked British attack and conquest of Mompracem, and Sandokan Fights Back actually has Sandokan returning to his ancestral home to kill his father's murderer and take back his throne.
    • It is implied that, after Sandokan's epic Roaring Rampage of Revenge in The King of the Sea, he and the British imperial government have an informal agreement that allows Sandokan and Yanez to do as they wish (even buying weapons from them) as long as they won't damage the British interests (Yanez even carved out a nice empire for himself right in the real-life Raj, with the Brits not interfering because he had deposed a corrupted prince and opened his country to trade).
  • Sacred Hospitality: Subverted by lord Guillonk: when he learns that the guest he had healed was actually Sandokan he kicked him out of his house and prepared an ambush against him. Sandokan seems to play it straight: while never tested on it he knows well the code, and took offense on the ambush (only the ambush: as a pirate he was Guillonk's enemy, and having fully recovered he admitted he was fair game for being kicked out).
  • Satellite Love Interest: Baronet William Rosenthal, a character in The Tigers of Mompracem, exists only to be Sandokan's rival for Marianna's love, and his only chance to marry her was to have lord Guillonk force his niece.
  • Seen It All: Yanez and the other Tigers of Mompracem are apparently bored by the sight of Sandokan crippling an ironclad cruiser with a single grenade or breaking shackles with zero effort.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Salgari traveled very little, but was very well documented, and his descriptions of ships, locations and societies showed it (he did a couple errors, but one of them, the lake near Mount Kinabalu, was commonly thought to exist at the time, and the area would be fully explored only after his death). Made more impressive by the fact internet didn't exist at the time and Salgari wasn't a professor, just a poor and overworked professional novel writer.
    • The choice of Assam as Surama's homeland is another example: exactly in the period where the rajah would have massacred his entire family save for Sindhia (who duped him into giving him a gun and did the obvious thing) and Surama herself (who Sindhia sold to the Thuggee), Upper Assam was ruled by Purandar Singha, a notably corrupt, incompetent, stupid and possibly crazy king who had been installed by the British only to be deposed for failing to pay his dues, exactly the kind of character who could have pulled the massacre enacted by the unnamed rajah of Assam.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Marianna is stated to be of very short stature, and in the Italian tv movies she has manned a CANNON.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Yanez had a role as big if not bigger than Sandokan from The King of the Sea to An Empire Crumbles, with The Brahman and An Empire Crumbles actually having him as the declared protagonist. Ironically, Yanez's Revenge is the novel in which Sandokan takes back the spotlight.
  • Talk to the Fist: In The King of the Sea the alleged Mecca's Pilgrim was ordering the escaping Tigers of Mompracem to surrender when Yanez, happy to see him, shot him in the chest.
  • Tempting Fate: Played with. When Sandokan boasted he felt like could kill a tiger he was promptly invited by lord Guillonk to take part to a tiger hunt, but Sandokan not only survived but made good on his boast.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Salgari loves this trope, and anyone with half a brain tend to bring as much firepower as they can. One example from The Pirates of Malaysia: to fight Sandokan's single ship Pearl of Labuan (an oversized praho modified for superior speed and carrying more guns than normal prahos) James Brooke deployed four normal prahos (each with about three quarters of Sandokan's firepower) and his personal ship Royalist, that was a match for Pearl. It's hinted that James Brooke was improvising, and that he would have used more ships had he been faster at recognizing Marianna as a pirate ship or Sandokan slower at realizing what Brooke was doing.
    • An example from Yanez's Revenge: when facing about a thousand badly trained enemies armed with antique muzzle-loaders Sandokan opened fire with two hundreds repeating rifles and twelve Maxim machine guns while charging at them on top of elephants. Very few enemies survived long enough to realized how badly outgunned, outmanouvered and outclassed they were and run the hell away from there.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Salgari's unnamed counterpart of Purandar Singha is a literal example. During his attempt at massacring his extended family for no apparent reason, his cousin Sindhia begged him to let him try and shoot a rupee coin, and let him go if he succeeded. The rajah accepted, and died when Sindhia shot him.
  • Truth Serums: The "youma drink", also called "the lemonade that loosens the tongue": a drink made of lemon juice, opium and sap from a youma plant (an unspecified member of the sansevieria genus), it gets the drinker too high to care he shouldn't answer the questions he's being asked, even insulting the questioner if the revelations are about a plan to harm them. First shows up in The Mystery of the Black Jungle, when Bharata prepares it and Macpherson tricks Tremal Naik in drinking it, with many others (including the Thuggee and James Brooke) knowing how to prepare it.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Salgari chose Sandokan's base on an old map, but the island isn't shown on maps since before Salgari started writing, and the main candidate of Keraman is mentioned in the novels as a separate island.
  • World of Badass: This is a world where the two guys who used to hunt tigers for a living aren't the most dangerous guys around and the guy most notable for being Marianna's Hopeless Suitor is an accomplished Royal Navy officer, what would you expect?
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • James Brooke is the only one of Sandokan's enemies to conquer this honour, having actually won his initial battle with the Tiger of Malaysia and protected his subjects from colonialism.
    • On a more general term Sandokan is quite generous with the crews of ships that didn't surrender immediately but fought back with valor, even paying the damage to their ship (not the cargo). It's even openly shown that some of the Tigers of Mompracem come from the crews of defeated ships, having fought back with incredible valor and survived long enough for either Sandokan or Yanez stopping the Tigers and making the offer.
    • This is how Kammamuri first met Yanez: the ship he was traveling with shipwrecked on Mompracem, and when the pirates attacked he outlived the crew and fought back with incredible valor, prompting Yanez to recall the pirates and asking him to join.
    • Apparently at least some officers in the Royal Navy felt this way about Sandokan even in his pirate days: the lieutenant that managed to capture Sandokan near the end of The Tigers of Mompracem openly complained that he was scheduled to be hanged at Three Islands, and said that if he had been in charge Sandokan would have been offered a command in the Indian Army (meaning that a ludicrously dangerous pirate was neutralized and they earned a very brave and competent officer for their ground troops and well away from Mompracem). The same lieutenant (who never approached Sandokan without escort and a hand on his gun, even when he didn't yet know that Sandokan had broke his chains) allowed Sandokan to 'kill himself' to spare him the humiliation, and when Marianna asked for the 'corpse' he not only allowed her to claim him (after having a doctor checking if he was really dead, of course) but also suggested her to throw them in the sea before her uncle got the chance to hang him anyway.
    • The son of Suyodhana was the only man to completely and utterly defeat Sandokan, but spared his life due to this trope and having fallen in love for Tremal Naik's daughter.