East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The Rose of Tibet

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As expected, the effect of Christopher Fowler’s The Book of Forgotten Authors is making itself felt, causing my reading list to explode as I discover writers I have so far ignored.
First it was Margery Allingham, and now it’s the turn of Lionel Davidson.

A writer that was highly praised by Graham Greene and often compared to Eric Ambler, Lionel Davidson had three Gold Dagger Awards and was considered for a while a highly favoured contender, if an outsider, for the title of best British thriller writer.
One of his books was even made into a TV series by the BBC and his last book, published in 1994, received rave reviews.
But then for some reason he fell out of sight.

Of all of Davidson’s books mentioned by Fowler, The Rose of Tibet was the one that caught my fancy – an old-school adventure story written in 1962 and set in Tibet in 1951, at the time of the Chinese invasion, and featuring mysterious monasteries, lost treasure, and a supposedly immortal demon-woman.
I mean, how could I resist?
So I placed it in my Amazon wish-list, and trusted my friends and supporters out there.
Nice and smooth.

Recently reprinted and available in ebook, The Rose of Tibet follows the adventure of Charles Houston, that leaves his soul-crushing life as an art teacher in London to travel to India and the Himalayas, looking for his missing brother.
And after a somewhat mannered start, the novel picks up speed and proceeds at a breakneck pace, carrying the painfully inadequate Houston through savage mountains and dangers both natural and man-made.
True to the rule that to build a good adventure yarn you have to put your main character on top of a tree, and then rain stones on him, but only after you’ve set the tree on fire, the author spares nothing to his character, and while not a tough-guy book, The Rose of Tibet is a tough story, well served by the author crisp, spare language. Lovers of thrillers and old-school exotic pulp fiction in the Oriental Adventures/Talbot Mundy style, should look no further.
It is also a fast read – I went through the 300+ pages in three evenings.

And while I wonder why nobody ever made a movie of this great, forgotten book, I am now thinking about getting the other books in Davidson’s catalog, starting with the three award-winning novels.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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