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  • Location: Middle East

The Valleys of the Assassins

The Valleys of the Assassins

Why a Booktrail?

1927: Freya Stark had nurtured a fascination for the Middle East since reading Arabian Nights as a child

  • ISBN: 978-1529379778
  • Genre: Guide book, Travelogue

What you need to know before your trail

Growing up in near-poverty and denied a formal education, Freya Stark had nurtured a fascination for the Middle East since reading Arabian Nights as a child. But it wasn’t until she was in her thirties that she was able to leave Europe. Boarding a cargo ship to Beirut in 1927, she went on to became one of her generation’s most intrepid explorers – her adventures would take her to remote areas in Turkey, the Middle East and Asia.

The Valleys of the Assassins chronicles Stark’s treks into the wilderness of western Iran on the hunt for treasure and in an attempt to locate the long-fabled Assassins in Alumut, an ancient Persian sect. Entering Luristan on a mule, draped in native clothing, Freya bluffs her way past border guards and sets off into uncharted territory; places where few Europeans, and no European women, had ventured.
Stark was a woman of indefatigable energy, who often travelled with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget, and who was undeterred by discomfort and danger. Hailed as a classic upon its first publication in 1934, The Valleys of the Assassins is an absorbing account of people and place. Full of wit and rich in detail – and also in humanity – her writing brings to vivid life the stories of the ancient kingdoms of the Middle East.

Travel Guide

Travel to Iran with Freya Stark

Freya Stark (1893-1993) was an Anglo-Italian explorer and travel writer. She wrote more than two dozen books on her travels in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as several autobiographical works and essays. She was one of the first Europeans to travel through the southern Arabian Desert. During World War II she worked for the British Ministry of Information in Aden, Baghdad, and Cairo, where she founded the anti-Nazi Brotherhood of Freedom. She was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1972.

Hailed as a classic upon its first publication in 1934, The Valleys of the Assassins firmly established Freya Stark as one of her generation’s most intrepid explorers. The book chronicles her travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget. Stark writes engagingly of the nomadic peoples who inhabit the region’s valleys and brings to life the stories of the ancient kingdoms of the Middle East, including that of the Lords of Alamut, a band of hashish-eating terrorists whose stronghold in the Elburz Mountains Stark was the first to document for the Royal Geographical Society.

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Valleys of the Assassins

Destination: Iran, Iraq   Author/guide: Freya Stark, Monisha Rajesh  Departure Time: 1927

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