Books

Night of Fire

Colin Thubron

It began with a spark...

A house is burning. Its six tenants include a failed priest, a naturalist, a neurosurgeon and a photographer. Their landlord's relationship to them is both intimate and shadowy. At times he shares their obsessions and memories. He will also share their fate.

The passions of these individuals reach beyond the dying house that holds them. One recalls a lonely childhood, another the cremation grounds of India, another an African refugee camp. But will their stories be consumed forever by the flames?

Falling

Colin Thubron

From the crowd below a journalist watches, as a circus girl performs her strangely daring trapeze act, and is captivated by her beauty, outrageous costumes and exotic make-up in such a way that he finds himself falling helplessly in love with her. But it is from a prison cell that the journalist remembers what happened - a prison like a microcosm of the world outside, where there are those who risk, and those who are self-incarcerated. Exploring the courage to aim beyond human limitation, Falling is an intensely moving story of love and loss.

Journey Into Cyprus

Colin Thubron

The people, their history and the beauty of an island on the brink of tragedy.

This is the account of a unique journey - a six-hundred-mile trek on foot around Cyprus in the last year of the island's peace. Colin Thubron intertwines myth, history and personal anecdote in a quest from which the characters and places, architecture and landscape all spring vividly to the reader's eye.

Emperor

Colin Thubron

The Emperor Constantine crosses the Alps at the head of a great army from the Rhineland in AD 312, and marches south to take Rome from the tyrant Maxentius. As he lays siege to the city of Verona, Constantine waits for the arrival of his wife, Fausta - his enemy's sister - whose cool detachment torments him. Emperor is a superbly imaginative reconstruction of the dramatic weeks leading up to Constantine's triumph in Rome. Written in the form of extracts from his own journal and letters from his empress, her frivolous female companion, his cynical secretary and a Christian bishop who is travelling with the army, the novel records a train of events which will change the world. Constantine is plagued by spiritual doubts, tortured by his wife's coldness, but he defies the omens to win a great victory at Verona and to lead his army south. On the road to Rome, the conqueror becomes the conquered as a blinding vision strikes him from his horse in an astonishing conversion to Christianity. Emperor summons up the Roman world of two thousand years ago, the everyday life of soldiers on campaign and the intrigues at court. But it is also the many-faceted story of a man's loss of faith in God and in human love, told with uncanny brilliance.

Distance

Colin Thubron

Edward has lost his short term-memory. He hopes it will return when he sees the cottage in which he lives. He recognizes his overcoat on the hook, his books, the double bed. The mystery however, is Naomi. Edward has no recollection of who she is or why she has left him a love letter.

With Thubron's customary clarity he draws a bleak, amnesiac world in which a young man must face again old griefs and linger 'like a coward, just this side of knowing'. On the other side, the memory of a destructive, obsessive relationship looms.

Turning Back The Sun

Colin Thubron

Far away from the city of his birth, in a frontier town on the edge of tribal wilderness, a doctor tries to resolve the seemingly unreconcilable demands of his public career and his personal feelings. He believes his exile her to be temporary, and youthful memories of the distant city torment him with an unbearable sense of loss. Yet he has grown to love a fellow exile, a woman of fierce independence and strong will, who belongs by nature to the warmth and chaos of the frontier? But, during a summer of drought and disease, the desert erupts into savagery and he is at last confronted by the choice of returning to the city or of remaining with her.

To a Mountain in Tibet

Colin Thubron

TOP TEN BESTSELLER

Mount Kailas is the most sacred of the world's mountains - holy to one fifth of humanity. Isolated beyond the central Himalayas, its summit has never been scaled, but for centuries the mountain has been ritually circled by Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.

Colin Thubron joins these pilgrims, after an arduous trek from Nepal, through the high passes of Tibet, to the magical lakes beneath the slopes of Kailas itself. He talks to secluded villagers and to monks in their decaying monasteries; he tells the stories of exiles and of eccentric explorers from the West.

Yet he is also walking on a pilgrimage of his own. Having recently witnessed the death of the last of his family, his trek around the great mountain awakes an inner landscape of love and grief, restoring precious fragments of his own past.

'I would rather read Colin Thubron than any other travel writer alive' - John Simpson

Mirror To Damascus

Colin Thubron

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY THE AUTHOR

Described by the author as simply 'a work of love', Mirror to Damascus provides a rich and fascinating history of Damascus from the Amorites of the Bible to the revolution of 1966, and is also a charming and witty personal record of an extraordinary city.

In explaining how modern Damascus is rooted in immemorial layers of culture and tradition, Colin Thubron explores the historical, artistic, social and religious inheritance of its people. Along the way, he shares unforgettable stories about the enterprising travellers of bygone days.

Mirror to Damascus is a unique portrait of a city now obscured by recent upheavals, by one of the most indefatigable and popular of travel writers.

The Hills Of Adonis

Colin Thubron

For four months and five hundred miles Colin Thubron walked the mountains of Lebanon, following tracks and rivers. His journey was not only a survey of a remarkable country, but a quest for the gods and divinities who held the secrets of death and rebirth in the land's ancient cults.

He visited almost every place of cultural importance, and lived with the people along his way, recording a country of outstanding natural scenery, rich with a unique medley of races and religions.

The Hills of Adonis is both a travel book and a personal journal; for the quest is the search for meaning, a reflection on faith and reason and a poem on the joy and complexity of living.

Marco Polo Travels

Colin Thubron

Marco Polo set off on his travels from Venice as a young man in 1271, and returned home in 1295 after spending 24 years away, 17 of them in China. He isone of the few early adventurers whose name nearly everyone knows. His book was one of the best-loved works of the Middle Ages, and has remained popular ever since. At a time when China is again assuming global importance, his account of China under the Mongol emperor Khubilai Khan - the dazzlingly splendid capital in Beijing, the great southern metropolis of Hangzhou - is a classic reminder of the antiquity of Chinese power and civilization.
Marco Polo also portrays countries and cities all along the trade route from the Mediterranean to Mongolia. He reminds us that Iraq's present suffering is not unique by relating the story of the attack on Baghdad by Mongol forces in 1258. He conveys the daunting prospect of the deserts of central Asia and the distant charms of Yunnan. And he reminds us of the huge merchant ships dominating China's trade with foreign countries, ships that far outstripped their European counterparts. He even writes about Japan, the first European to do so.
His book was often thought of as a book of marvels, but one of its striking features to a contemporary reader is its clarity, realism and tolerance. As this new edition shows, he sometimes exaggerates, but his reputation for making things up is quite unfair, as Colin Thubron makes clear in his introduction.
The original manuscript of Marco Polo's book is lost, and in the many later versions names and other details have become so garbled that it has been said that his itineraries are impossible to follow. This new Everyman edition shows this need not be so. It explains clearly all the references in the book, and shows in detail with new maps the routes described from Venice to Beijing, from Beijing to Burma, and from Beijing to south-east China. It also provides an up-to-date history of the book and the controversies surrounding it.

In Siberia

Colin Thubron

This is the account of Thubron's 15,000-mile journey through an astonishing country - one twelfth of the land surface of the whole earth. He journeyed by train, river and truck among the people most damaged by the breakup of the Soviet Union, traveling among Buddhists and animists, radical Christian sects, reactionary Communists and the remnants of a so-call Jewish state; from the site of the last Czar's murder and Rasputin's village, to the ice-bound graves of ancient Sythians, to Baikal, deepest and oldest of the world's lakes.

It is the story of a people moving through the ruins of Communism into more private, diverse and often stranger worlds.

Shadow of the Silk Road

Colin Thubron

On buses, donkey carts, trains, jeeps and camels, Colin Thubron traces the drifts of the first great trade route out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey.

Covering over 7000 miles in eight months Thurbron recounts extraordinary adventures - a near-miss with a drunk-driver, incarceration in a Chinese cell during the SARS epidemic, undergoing root canal treatment without anaesthetic in Iran - in inimitable prose.

Shadow of the Silk Road is about Asia today; a magnificent account of an ancient world in modern ferment.

A Cruel Madness

Colin Thubron

When a part-time worker in a mental hospital meets his old girlfriend inside he is not sure at first is she is a patient. Their reunion is haunted and haunting, and from the memory of their past affair there unfolds a labyrinth which darkens from romantic obsession to feelings deeper and more disturbing. Colin Thubron creates a world of passion, delusion, and reality mingling with unreality, pervaded by an all-consuming sense of longing and of loss.

Among The Russians

Colin Thubron

Among the Russians is a marvellous account of a solitary journey by car from St. Petersburg and the Baltic States south to Georgia and Armenia. A gifted writer and intrepid traveller, Thubron grapples with the complexities of Russian identity and relays his extraordinary journey in characteristically lyrical style. This is an enthralling and revealing account of the habits and idiosyncrasies of a fascinating nation along with a sharp and insightful social commentary of Russian life.

The Lost Heart Of Asia

Colin Thubron

Thubron travelled throughout Central Asia in the wake of the break-up of the Soviet Union and documented the widespread social upheaval in a region reeling from political change. Thubron is an inspirational writer, intrepid traveller and insightful observer and his The Lost Heart of Asia is an outstanding guide to the history, people and culture of a vast region resonating with history and politics.

Behind The Wall

Colin Thubron

Having learned Mandarin, and travelling alone by foot, bicycle and train, Colin Thubron set off on a 10,000 mile journey from Beijing to the borders of Burma. He travelled through the wind-swept wastes of the Gobi desert and finished at the far end of the Great Wall.

What Thubron reveals is an astonishing diversity, a land whose still unmeasured resources strain to meet an awesome demand, and an ancient people still reeling from the devastation of the Cultural Revolution.

To The Last City

Colin Thubron

To the Last City is set deep in the Peruvian Andes, where five ill-prepared travellers - men and women with different values, temperaments and motives - find themselves trekking through one of the most exacting and beautiful regions on earth.

It is a journey which may temper or destroy them. They confront not only their relationships with one another, but also the enigmas of the country's past, the dangers of its present, and the limitations of their own minds and bodies. The 'lost city' of their destination is Vilcabamba, last refuge of the Inca against the Spaniards, subsumed by jungle for four hundred years.

In this brilliant exploration of the psychological challenges of travelling, set within the exotic jungle of South America, Colin Thubron for the first time joins his highly acclaimed talents as a travel writer with his gifts as a novelist.

Biography

Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing, and the winner of many prizes and awards. His first writing was about the Middle East - Damascus, Lebanon and Cyprus. In 1982 he travelled into the Soviet Union in an ancient Morris Marina, pursued by the KGB, a journey he recorded in Among the Russians. From these early experiences developed his classic travel books: Behind the Wall (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Award), The Lost Heart of Asia, In Siberia (Prix Bouvier) and Shadow of the Silk Road (all available in Vintage). In 2010 Colin Thubron became President the Royal Society of Literature.