The Road to Samarcand


Years ago, I would haunt garage sales or book sales (I remember one, in particular, that was charging a dollar for a bag of used books) and grab any book that looked like it might be of interest. This has resulted in shelves jammed with books and an overflowing reading pile.

However, this hoarding of books by unproven authors has led me to commence a lot of novels only to discover they weren’t really my thing. However, I have come across some gems. The Road to Samarcand is one of those gems.

I can’t remember precisely when I stumbled across this book or how many years it has been languishing on my to-be-read pile, but I finally got around to reading it last week, after attempting and rejecting two or three other books I had picked up here and there.

Probably Patrick O’Brian is well known in some circles, given that, by my count of the listings at the front of the novel, he wrote and published 37 books over his lifetime. Somehow, his books had escaped my notice.

This book details adventures of an orphan who ends up exploring China with his uncle Sullivan, the captain of the Wanderer, while accompanying a professor on what was intended to be a scholarly expedition digging up artifacts but instead puts them smack dab in the path of invading Russians and war-like Mongols.

As an added bonus to this adventurous tale, the book contains the weird elements of yeti, who have been trained by the occupants of a local lamasery who prefer their solitude. These yeti dissuade intruders on the territory by hurling boulders out of the darkness or snow storms.

Given how much I enjoyed this tale, I’ll likely be picking up more Patrick O’Brian books in the future.

-Joel Jenkins
Author of Weird Action and Adventure



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