A glittering adventure set in India at the height of the British Raj. The New York Times compared Patrick O’Brian’s early novel to Kipling's Kim and called it "a gorgeous entertainment."
Hussein is a young mahout—or elephant handler—who falls in love with a beautiful and elusive girl, Sashiya, and arranges for another of her suitors to be murdered with a fakir's curse. The dead man's relatives vow vengeance. Hussein escapes and his adventures begin: snake-charming, sword-fighting, spying, stealing a fortune, and returning triumphantly to claim his bride.
All of this is set against an evocatively exotic India, full of bazaars, temples, and beautiful women— despite the fact that O'Brian had never been to the East when he wrote the story.
Published when he was in his early twenties, Patrick O'Brian writes of Hussein: "In the writing of the book I learnt the rudiments of my calling: but more than that, it opened a well of joy that has not yet run dry."
‘There is not a page that does not reek of India: the dust, the smell of street and jungle, the rumble of an elephant’s stomach are all here – astounding, precise evocations of a place O’Brian did not know.’ Martin Booth, Daily Telegraph
‘A gorgeous entertainment.’ The New York Times
‘Hussein has it all: the immersion in another world, full of local colour, the delight in a specialised vocabulary, the relish of male camaraderie, travel, treasure and fighting.’ David Sexton, Evening Standard
About The Author
Patrick O’Brian, until his death in 2000, was one of our greatest contemporary novelists. He is the author of the acclaimed Aubrey–Maturin tales and the biographer of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He is the author of many other books including Testimonies, and his Collected Short Stories. In 1995 he was the first recipient of the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime’s contribution to literature. In the same year he was awarded the CBE. In 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He lived for many years in South West France and he died in Dublin in January 2000.