Friday, July 25, 2008

'In Xanadu' by William Dalrymple - Short Review

I recently read a book called 'In Xanadu'. Its by William Dalrymple and is one of his early works. WD now is a very famous author and has written the popular ones like 'The last Mughal', 'The city of Djinns' etc. I was given this book by a friend and I think I was really lucky because otherwise I dont see myself picking this book from books-shelfs and reading it.

'In Xanadu' is a travelogue of WD and his friend where he tries to re-trace the route which was taken by Marco Polo (an old merchant and traveler) on his visit to Xanadu. WD was in college and he managed to get just enough funds to sponsor this trip as a educational trip. Marco was going to Xanadu to meet the great emperor Kublai Khan who controlled most of west and east Asia, Xanadu is now in Mongolia. The idea was to get pally with Khan and sort of use his friendship and power to influence control over muslims.

The journey starts with Jerusalem and ends at Xanadu and it takes you to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Karakoram, China and finally Xanadu. Its all real account and young WD expressed it so well that you feel like doing the journey with him. Its a modern book and you would be able to empathize with lots of things. The narration is splendid and journey is one hell mix of adventure and fun.

I wont spill too many beans here but anyone who loves travel writing must read this. Its also a great source of history and once you read this, you would come out as a more learned and traveled person. Its not too thick and should not take many months to finish.

I am currently reading 'India in Slow Motion' by Mark Tully and would try to write a short review once I am done.