Summary and book reviews of The Warlord's Son by Dan Fesperman

The Warlord's Son

A Novel

by Dan Fesperman

The Warlord's Son by Dan Fesperman X
The Warlord's Son by Dan Fesperman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2004, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2005, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A burned-out war correspondent hoping for a last hurrah in Afghanistan arrives on the Afghan border just as American bombs begin falling on the ruling Taliban in this fast-paced, timely, and galvanizing novel.

His last novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows, was hailed as "a relentlessly crackling mystery and adventure tale" (The Baltimore Sun) and "a new standard for war-based thrillers" (Los Angeles Times). In this electrifying new thriller, Dan Fesperman takes us to present-day Afghanistan–the global capital of death long before it became a battleground for America–where the fates of an American journalist and a Pakistani translator become dangerously intertwined with the fortunes of warlords, spies, and dubious corporate interests.

A burned-out war correspondent hoping for a last hurrah in Afghanistan, Skelly arrives on the Afghan border just as American bombs begin falling on the ruling Taliban. Seeking the scoop of a lifetime as witness to the capture of "the biggest fish of them all," he links up with an exiled warlord's quixotic expedition. Guiding Skelly's way is Najeeb, a tribal Pakistani with his own objective–U.S. visas for his girlfriend and himself, promised by Pakistani intelligence if he acts as an informant.

A harrowing crossing into Afghanistan is only the beginning of trouble for the two men. Their journey quickly escalates into a race for their lives as they are pulled into a vortex of intrigue, betrayal, and violence. Finally, only their loyalty to each other holds out the possibility of survival for either of them.

Fast-paced, timely, and galvanizing from first to last.

Chapter One

The sun does not rise in Peshawar.

It seeps--an egg-white smear that brightens the eastern horizon behind a veil of smoke, exhaust and dust. The smoke rises from burning wood, cow patties and old tires, meager flames of commerce for kebab shops and bakers, metalsmiths and brick kilns. The worst of the exhaust sputters from buzzing blue swarms of motor rickshaws, three-wheeled terrors that careen between horse carts and overloaded buses.

But it was the dust that Najeeb Azam knew best. Like him, it had swirled down from the arid lands of the Khyber and never settled, prowling restlessly in the streets and bazaars as if awaiting a fresh breeze to carry it to some farther, better destination.

In the morning it coated his pillow, a faint powder flecked with soot. In the evening he wiped it from his face and coughed cinders into a handkerchief, never quite able to flush it from either pores or lungs. Wherever he traveled it went along for the ride, a ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Patrick Anderson - The Washington Post
The Warlord's Son offers a brilliant picture of what might be called the journalistic condition -- specifically, the joys, absurdities and horrors of the foreign correspondent's life -- and it will teach you more than you ever expected to know about tribesmen for whom violence is a given and betrayal is an art … [it} deserves the attention of anyone who is open to first-rate fiction about war, journalism and the dark, dangerous worlds called Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Entertainment Weekly
A first-rate geopolitical yarn . . . Fesperman combines his strong eye for detail with bleak film-noir cynicism, managing to make plot twists that could have felt contrived seem depressingly believable.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
A thrilling odyssey into Afghanistan during the waning days of Taliban rule . . . a kind of post-modern Heart of Darkness.

Baltimore Sun
Compelling . . . I knew I could not sleep until finishing it.

The Economist
In The Warlord's Son, Dan Fesperman, an American foreign correspondent who covered the war in Afghanistan, succeeds in writing a convincing, accurate thriller . . . This book is worth reading if only for the passage where the hero, Skelly, glimpses Osama bin Laden at a public hanging; the scene both convinces and frightens.

Sunday Telegraph
A new book by Dan Fesperman is becoming a major literary event . . . Fesperman's experience as a war correspondent, together with his powers of description and characterization, produce an utterly compelling thriller and quite simply the best I've read all year.

Booklist - Alan Moores
Plot-driven fans might not see this slowly paced book to the end, but Fesperman offers a level of cultural and political nuance not always found in adventure thrillers.

Library Journal - Jane Jorgenson
Caught up in events that are both monumental and intensely personal, reporter Stan Skelly Kelly and his fixer, Najeeb, cross from Pakistan into war-torn Afghanistan.

Publishers Weekly
Capture, escape and shocking revelations finally save one man and condemn the other in this gripping portrayal of shameless media frenzy and hopeless geopolitical gamesmanship.

Kirkus Reviews
Bleak and gritty, but thoroughly believable, especially the reporting scenes.

Author Blurb Larry Gandle,author of Deadly Pleasures
Dan Fesperman has written two superb novels concerning war-torn Yugoslavia from two different perspectives of time . . . Lie in the Dark won the Creasey Award for best first crime novel and The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller. Now he returns in by far and away his best work to date. In a sense it is sweeping in grandeur like Doctor Zhivago, yet intimate enough to be reminiscent of a Graham Greene and as a thriller intelligent enough to be in the same ranks of John LeCarre. However, I predict Dan Fesperman will ultimately equal them in fame writing his own type of stylistic war novels. This one is a masterpiece.

Reader Reviews

mhd

from a student point of view
I am a 10 grade student and read this book rather quickly. I found all parts of the book very interesting and also think most of it is true. As much as I like this book and thought it was fast moving and very mind-grasping I thought there were ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

With so much focus on Afghanistan's troubles over the last quarter decade it's easy to forget that this is a country with a long and cultured past.  At a time when most of Western Europe was wallowing in the Dark Ages, following the fall of the Roman Empire, Afghanistan's location made it a pivotal meeting point between the countries of the East and West.  Although most of the cultural treasures from that era have either been destroyed or have disappeared from the country, some have been recovered, including a cache of 20,000 golden objects which were thought to have been lost.  National Geographic had an ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Dan Fesperman

If you liked The Warlord's Son, try these:

  • The Opium Prince jacket

    The Opium Prince

    by Jasmine Aimaq

    Published 2020

    About this book

    Jasmine Aimaq's stunning debut explores Afghanistan on the eve of a violent revolution and the far-reaching consequences of a young Kochi girl's tragic death.

  • The Taliban Shuffle jacket

    The Taliban Shuffle

    by Kim Barker

    Published 2012

    About this book

    A true-life Catch-22 set in the deeply dysfunctional countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan, by one of the region's longest-serving correspondents.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Yolk
    Yolk
    by Mary Choi
    Mary H.K. Choi's young adult offering Yolk deftly maintains several plotlines running through the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Blizzard Party
    The Blizzard Party
    by Jack Livings
    It is 1978 and the place is New York City. A massive bacchanalian party is taking place at an Upper ...
  • Book Jacket: The Light of Days
    The Light of Days
    by Judy Batalion
    Renia, Sarah, Zivia, Frumka, Hantze, Tosia, Vladka, Chajka, Gusta, Hela, Bela, Lonka, Tema, Chasia, ...
  • Book Jacket: Hummingbird Salamander
    Hummingbird Salamander
    by Jeff VanderMeer
    In Hummingbird Salamander, Jeff VanderMeer weaves cybersecurity, bioterrorism, wildlife trafficking ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Of Women and Salt
    by Gabriela Garcia

    A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to the present day.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman
    by Julietta Henderson

    A charming, uplifting debut about a mother and her 12-year-old son, an aspiring comedian.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Miss Austen
by Gill Hornby
A witty, poignant novel about Cassandra Austen and her famous sister, Jane.
Win This Book!
Win The Beauty of Your Face

A New York Times Notable Book of 2020

"Stunning.… A timely family saga with faith and forgiveness at its core."
Marie Claire

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's N S O M N

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.