TWO FOR the grown-ups and a couple for the kids as well.jpg

TWO FOR the grown-ups and a couple for the kids as well

The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is well-known for his books on India, and his latest: The Last Mughal, subtitled The Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and The Fall of Delhi, 1857, is a stunning and bloody history of 19th century India and the reign of this last Mughal.

At 4pm on a dark, wet winter’s evening in November 1862, a cheap plywood coffin was buried to the eerie sound of silence. No lamentations, no panegyrics, for, as the British Commissioner in charge of the funeral insisted, “No vesting will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests.”

The last of the Great Mughals was one of the most talented, tolerant and likeable of his remarkable dynasty, and he found himself in the position of leader of a violent uprising he knew from the start would lead to irreparable carnage.

Zafar’s frantic efforts to unite his disparate and mutually suspicious forces proved tragically futile. The Siege of Delhi was the Raj’s Stalingrad, and Delhi was left an empty ruin, haunted by battered remnants of a past that was being rapidly, and brutally, overwritten. This book charts the desecration and demise of a man, his dynasty, his city and civilizations mercilessly ravished by fractured forces and vengeful British troops.

William Dalrymple unearths groundbreaking new material to create the first English account of the life of the last Emperor, and the first narrative of the mutiny to contain large quantities of material from the Indian perspective. The Last Mughal rapidly changes our understanding of a pivotal moment in Indian and Imperial history.

By the bestselling author of White Mughals, this is a must-read.

Available in hardback at 38.50 euros

The Afghan by Frederick Forsyth

If you want to read a fictional thriller, then who better than Frederick Forsyth? His latest, extremely topical thriller is set in and around the circles of Al Qaeda and the Western Intelligence services. Forsyth is on top form with this and his mastery of detail is impressive. This is already a top seller.

When British and American intelligence catch wind of a major Al Qaeda operation in the works, they are primed for action, but what can they do? They know nothing about the attack: the what, where or when. They have no sources in Al Qaeda, and it’s impossible to plant someone. Impossible, unless ….

The Afghan is Izmat Khan, a prisoner of Guantanamo Bay for five years and a former senior commander of the Taliban. The Afghan is also Colonel Mike Martin, a 25-year veteran of war zones around the world, a dark, lean man, born and raised in Iraq. In an attempt to stave off disaster, the intelligence agencies will try to do what no one has ever done before – pass off a Westerner as an Arab among Arabs – pass off Martin as the trusted Khan.

It will require extraordinary preparation and extraordinary luck, for nothing can truly prepare Martin for the dark and shifting world he is about to enter, or for the terrible things he will find there.

The Day of the Jackal, The Dogs of War, The Odessa File – the books of Frederick Forsyth have helped define the international thriller as we know it today. Combining meticulous research with crisp narratives and plots as current as the headlines, Forsyth shows us the world as it is, in a way that few have ever been able to equal.

Available in hardback at 28 euros.

For the children, two, ever-popular authors have new books out: Jacqueline Wilson’s Starring Tracy Beaker will keep her many fans hooked (available in hardback at 20 euros), while anyone who has read any of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events will need no encouraging to read The End, the 13th, and indeed last, of the series, available in hardback at 11 euros.