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The Road to Samarcand
by Patrick O'Brian

Overview - This story begins where Patrick O'Brian's devoted fans would want it to, with a sloop in the South China Sea barely surviving a killer typhoon. But the time is the 1930s, and the protagonist a teenaged American boy whose missionary parents have just died.  Read more...

 
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More About The Road to Samarcand by Patrick O'Brian
 
 
 
Overview
This story begins where Patrick O'Brian's devoted fans would want it to, with a sloop in the South China Sea barely surviving a killer typhoon. But the time is the 1930s, and the protagonist a teenaged American boy whose missionary parents have just died. In the company of his rough seafaring uncle and an elderly English cousin, an eminent archaeologist, Derrick sets off in search of ancient treasures in central Asia. Along the way they encounter a charismatic Chinese bandit and a host of bad characters, including Russian agents fomenting unrest. (Most of these meet very bad ends.) The narrative as in all of O'Brian's novels touches on surprising subjects: astronomy, oriental philosophy, the correct identification of ancient Han bronzes, and some very local cuisine. It ends in an ice-bound valley, with the party caught between hostile Red-Hat monks and the Great Silent Ones, which is how the Tibetans designate the yeti."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780393064735
  • ISBN-10: 0393064735
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: July 2007
  • Page Count: 269


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Historical - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 27.
  • Review Date: 2007-04-16
  • Reviewer: Staff

This stand-alone adventure novel from O'Brian (1914–2000) saw British publication in 1954, before the Aubrey/Maturin historicals that made his name. In the years before WWII, the teenage Derrick, orphaned by his missionary parents, sails the China seas aboard the schooner Wanderer with his American uncle Terrence Sullivan (who is the captain), his elderly English cousin Ayrton (a professor of archeology) and Sullivan's business partner, Mr. Ross. Ayrton wants Derrick to leave the sea and attend school, but first they'll all embark on an archeological expedition to Samarcand (in what is now Uzbekistan). Marauding rebels capture Ross and Sullivan early on, and Ayrton (the most intriguing of the adult characters) pretends to be a Russian weapons expert to free them. Earthy, sly humor keeps the action set pieces perking along: frigid temperatures, militaristic Tibetan monks and even the Abominable Snowman await. Six decades later, O'Brian's richly told adventure saga, with its muscular prose, supple dialogue and engaging characters, packs a nice old-school punch. (July)

 
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