• The King's Shadow

  • Obsession, Betrayal, and the Deadly Quest for the Lost City of Alexandria
  • By: Edmund Richardson
  • Narrated by: Julian Elfer
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

For centuries, the city of Alexandria Beneath the Mountains was a meeting point of East and West. Then it vanished. In 1833, it was discovered in Afghanistan by the unlikeliest person imaginable: Charles Masson, deserter, pilgrim, doctor, archaeologist, spy, one of the most respected scholars in Asia, and the greatest of nineteenth-century travelers.

On the way into one of history's most extraordinary stories, he would take tea with kings, travel with holy men and become the master of a hundred disguises; he would see things no Westerner had glimpsed before and few have glimpsed since. He would spy for the East India Company and be suspected of spying for Russia at the same time, for this was the era of the Great Game, when imperial powers confronted each other in these staggeringly beautiful lands. Masson discovered tens of thousands of pieces of Afghan history, including the 2,000-year-old Bimaran golden casket, which has upon it the earliest known face of the Buddha. He would be offered his own kingdom; he would change the world, and the world would destroy him.

This is a wild journey through nineteenth-century India and Afghanistan, with impeccably researched storytelling that shows us a world of espionage and dreamers, ne'er-do-wells and opportunists, extreme violence both personal and military, and boundless hope.

©2021 Edmund Richardson (P)2022 Tantor

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Really Interesting

I’m not sure why I decided to read this book but I’m so glad I did. It is amazing what people dedicate their lives to. I love the history we get from the book. The author does a beautiful job of describing things. And, I loved the performer. His talent really enhanced the book for me. What an adventure!

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Total Duud

Not interesting or compelling in any way. The narration was good but poor guy had no story worth reading in front of him. If you enjoy good books please save yourself the 8 hours and find another.

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Exquisite! A Transporting Tale

Virtually each sentence of this book comes alive, taking one to a place teeming with sights, sensations, and sounds. This writer is extraordinary! The story of Charles Masson, his travels and role with the British East India Company, and encounters with actors/leaders in Asian/Middle Eastern lands during the early 19th century is very unique to modern readers - although Indiana Jones does come to mind. The places, actors, leaders, and scoundrels described open some doors into history that are truly astonishing. This is a book that will be at the top of my recommend/share list. And I'll be into another book by Richardson very soon.

The author tells a very complex story with great clarity. The listener does need to give careful attention to the many names as relationships flow early in the story. The narrator of this book was wonderful, will be among my favorites now. But I did slow the speed to .8 to allow myself to process all the details.

Given our recent history, I especially appreciated this brief historical view of Afghanistan. It left me wanting more - and thinking, very sadly, about pizza boxes. Get this book.