Two centuries ago Dr Johnson captured the imagination of Europe with his romantic tale, Rasselas. He described the strange fate of the royal princes of Abyssinia, who were condemned to be imprisoned in a mountain fastness until they died or the order of the succession called them to the throne.
How much of this was truth and how much legend? In Johnson’s day a mountain near Gondar, the capital of the Abyssinian Empire, was certainly used as a royal prison. But no European traveller was able to visit it at the time, and the place apparently remained unexplored till the present day.
Now Thomas Pakenham has visited Ethiopia to discover the truth. He found that, away from the motor-road, much of the country was still terra incognita. And the province of Belesa where the Mountain lay was not only the remotest of all but also celebrated for its bandits. Travelling by mule, with an escort of armed Ethiopians provided by the provincial governor, he eventually reached the Happy Valley. The truth about the predicament of the princes was even more melodramatic than Johnson surmised.
During his quest the author found himself in parts of the deep country where no European had been seen before. In all he visited three prison-mountains. He also made a remarkable archaeological discovery: he stumbled on a medieval church of the finest style yet recorded.
This is a personal record of a journey in an almost unknown land: equally enthralling as a book of travel, history, or sheer adventure.
Jacket designed by Susan Benson.
Thomas Pakenham is the eldest son of Lord and Lady Pakenham, who have eight children. He was born on 14th August 1933, and educated at Ampleforth and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read Greats.
Shortly before his twenty-first birthday he left England to wander for a year in Ethiopia and the Middle East. Since his return he has decided to make a career in journalism and has done a number of articles and broadcasts on Ethiopia.
He is particularly interested in architecture and now lives on the Paddington canal in a house decorated in the Gothic style.
Source: revers de jaquette
Pages and binding are presentable with no major defects. Minor issues present such as mild cracking, inscriptions, inserts, light foxing, tanning and thumb marking. Overall a good condition item. Boards have mild shelf wear with light rubbing and corner bumping. Some light marking and sunning. Jacket has light edge wear with minor tears and chipping.