Barnaby Rogerson

The Joy of Sects

The Hall of a Thousand Columns: Hindustan to Malabar with Ibn Battutah

By

John Murray 333pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

The Hall of a Thousand Columns is the second in a planned sequence of books in which Tim Mackintosh-Smith traces the footsteps of Ibn Battutah, the fourteenth-century Moroccan-born answer to Marco Polo. At one level it follows a conventional literary trail, as its author travels the length and breadth of India trying to unearth any surviving evidence of Battutah’s peregrinations, be it jails, gilded halls, tooth-tombs, living descendants, or miraculously aged hermits; and the pithy observations of his chosen travelling companions, a flatulent saint-loving local driver and the artist Martin Yeoman, provide a rich texture of multiple perception.

On another level, it is also an exploration of Battutah’s real nature, that combination of uplifting mystical and geographical inquiry and toadyism which makes him such an intriguing character – a conflict that is dramatically exposed in the clash

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter