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King of the Khyber Rifles

Talbot Mundy

Book Overview: 

Athelstan King is a British Secret Agent stationed in India at the beginning of WWI. He is attached to the Khyber Rifles regiment as a cover, but his real job is to prevent a holy war. "To stop a holy war single-handed would be rather like stopping the wind--possibly easy enough, if one knew the way." King is ordered to work with a mysterious and powerful Eastern woman, Yasmini. Can King afford to trust her? Can he afford not to?

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Through the great iron door into dim outer darkness King led them and presently made them squat in a close-huddled semicircle on the paving stones, like night-birds waiting for a meal.

"I want blankets for them—two good ones apiece—and food for a week's journey!" he told the astonished Saunders; and he spoke so decidedly that the other man's questions and argument died stillborn. "While you attend to that for me, I'll be seeing his dibs and making explanations. You look full of news. What do you know?"

"I've telephoned all the other stations, and my men swear Yasmini has not left Delhi by train!"

King smiled at him.

"If I leave by train d'you suppose she'll hear of it?"

"You bet! Bet your boots! Man alive—if she's interested in you by so much," —he measured off a fraction of his little finger end— "she knows your next two moves ahead, to say nothi. . . Read More

Community Reviews

In a way, a standard paternalist/racist white-man-among-the-brown-people adventure yarn, clearly written quickly (though much of the writing, poetry aside, is surprisingly artful). Interesting in how Mundy walks the tightrope of giving the "mysterious East" just enough credit to provide the hero...more

The East is a fantasy--it does not exist, save in the minds of Westerners. As Said points out, they make it up, out of their own hopes, dreams, and fears. They will create it even where it doesn’t exist, and they will believe in it despite evidence to the contrary. When a lawyer in London convinces t...more

King of the Khyber Rifles

King of the Khyber Rifles, published in 1916, is a rousing tale of adventure on the Northwest Frontier on India. The author, Talbot Mundy (1879-1940), was born in England. After an adventurous life in various parts of the world he settled in the United States in 1911 where.../>King

Athelstan King, seventh generation India-British soldier, must investigate mystery "Heart of the Hills", rumors of an India uprising that would surprise British forces facing the other way, the German war machine of WW1. His strange ability like "water, to reach the point he aimed for" p20 can re...more

I had read the clasic comic in the 50s and also saw the movie with Tyrone Power in either 59 or 60. This book is slightly different from the classic comic. Talbot Mundy has an ex cathedra way of pronouncing on all and sundry especially the differences between East and West. Still a very exciting...more

Another Fantastic Talbot Adventure

Talbot Munday never fails to provide excitement and adventure with his storytelling. King of the Khyber rifles is no exception. Read and enjoy.

Talbot Mundy is one of the forgotten writers of the early 20C. He was a contemporary of Conan Doyle and H. Rider Haggard, but his adventure thrillers haven't endured as theirs have. Hard to see why not, really. The story of political intrigue, warmongering and romance in the north-west frontier o...more

King–of the Khyber Rifles
by Talbot Mundy
Carrol and Graf 1985
$3.95; 395 pages
ISBN 0881841692

I enjoy reading old books. This one is only 101 years old at this point, but I enjoy the act of getting into the mind of someone from another age. Written in 1916, Talbot...more

King of the Khyber Rifles by Talbot Mundy takes place at the beginning of World War I. This is a spy thriller par excellance filled with romance and action, set first in India and then in the exotic area of the Khyber Pass and Khinjan in Pakistan and Afghanistan (generally the northeastern area o...more

This timeless Mundy special is a treatise on what-happens-next.Several threads of suspense running intertwined, culminating in a reasonably clever ending.I was truly transported to the North-western frontier of British India during 1914.

With the colonial British legions from India get...more

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