The Last Outpost Trilogy by Ilyas Khan
The first novel I ever read was The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The novel is about the man of action and adventure, Khalid who leads a group of Afro-Asian tribesmen in an attempt to build a bridge across the Great Salt and to cross to the west. Khalid and his men move past the rivers to the flats where they live. The novel shows us that great daring and canyoning adventures are not confined to the mountains and that wild canyons still have huge appeal.
The Last Outpost is the second novel in the series. It depicts the life of a group of young Khiva from different regions of Pakistan. This book is based on my conversations with the author and it showed me an interesting perspective on events that I had missed when I read the first novel. Khalid still faces incredible challenges and problems, but he becomes less alienated as the story progresses.
Khalid’s greatest adventure is his quest for the Great Salt. He is lead into a number of badlands and by a path where he encounters many dangers. He learns to build bridges through the use of underground passages that were discovered when his army was attacked by an enemy. He faces two out of three tribes.
When Khalid and his companions face the enemies, the pressure and the dangers are enormous and so the book tries to show the reader a different angle on what really is happening. The author seems to be drawing more attention to the differences between the two societies rather than the similarities.
As a result of this new book, Khalid’s spirit is broken. His encounter with animals leaves him mute and his first love flees from him leaving him without hope.
In the second novel, The Dragon, the reader gets to read about Khiva’s arrival at the fort of Muhammad Ahmad Khan at the time of the first expedition by Khalid. The fort is under attack by a powerful Muslim tribe called the Kaktus. They want to annihilate the Kura Khan clan and therefore their revenge will be by taking over the fort. Khiva and his companion kill several enemies and then engage in several skirmishes with the enemy.
Khalid and his companions confront the Kaktus in a climactic battle and when they fall, Khalid moves his army to take the fort. The battle is one of the most famous stories of a war between two armies that begins with a certain bait that has to be taken and ends with a single arrow. It is this story that I had forgotten when I read the previous book.
The last book in the series is the first part of the third novel. The final part revolves around Khalid, his sons and their children who are all trying to preserve the memory of their father. Both sides are equally devastating and the result is equally disastrous. The whole novel is told from a Khiva’s point of view.
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