What the books are about

Sea of Poppies

At the heart of this epic saga, set just before the Opium Wars, is an old slaving-ship, The Ibis. Its destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean, its crew a motley array of sailors and stowaways, coolies and convicts. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a truly diverse cast of

Indians and Westerners, from a bankrupt Raja

to a widowed villager, from an evangelical

English opium trader to a mulatto American freedman. As their old family ties are washed away they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais or

ship-brothers. An unlikely dynasty is born, which will span continents, races and

generations. The vast sweep of this historical

adventure spans the lush poppy fields of

the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the

exotic backstreets of China. But it is the panorama of characters, whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, which makes Sea of Poppies so breathtakingly alive — a masterpiece from one of the world’s finest novelists.

Devil May Care

Penguin is delighted to be publishing Devil May Care. When we heard that Sebastian Faulks would be taking up the mantle, we knew instantly there could not be a more fitting celebration of Ian Fleming’s work. Not only has Sebastian picked up from where Fleming left off, but he has also brought his own exquisite prose to the cocktail party — and, in so doing, has written a tour de force that will thrill and satisfy every kind of reader and every kind of James Bond fan.

The Collector of Worlds

The Collector of Worlds is a meditation on the extraordinary life of infamous explorer Sir Richard Burton. The first westerner to make the hajj to Mecca, he also discovered the source

of the Nile with Speke. His

translation of the Arabian

Nights is one of the great moments in the

encounter between Islam and the West, that scandalised his contemporaries with its

salty eroticism. Troyanov’s novel does full

justice to this great, controversial mediator

between cultures. The book imagines his

encounter with India as a young officer,

and brings to life his trials and travels through the eyes of his Indian servant, the Sharif of

Mecca and the former slave who guided Burton to the Nile.

The Looming Tower

Wright’s brilliantly constructed narrative is head and shoulders above the rest.

He knows important parts of

the Muslim world (including

Saudi Arabia) at first hand, he

understands the motors of

Islamist militancy... Moreover,

he is a fine writer with an eye for the telling

detail. Even those who think they know the

story intimately will feel they are reading

it anew’

The Khyber Pass

This book was an absolutely fascinating read — really informative, illuminating and hugely entertaining with colourful anecdotes from the author’s own personal experience of the Khyber Pass. The historical analysis is written in a way which is sophisticated yet easy to assimilate. I would recommend the book as easily to those who have no particular knowledge of the region as to those with expert knowledge.

Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil confirmed Nietzsche’s position as the towering European philosopher of his age. The work dramatically rejects the tradition of Western thought with its notions of truth and God, good and evil. Nietzsche demonstrates that the Christian world is steeped in a false piety

and infected with a ‘slave morality’. With wit

and energy, he turns from this critique

to a philosophy that celebrates the present

and demands that the individual imposes their own ‘will to power’ upon the world.