The Wandering Falcon shows the stark beauty, violence, and traditions of an area known as the Federally Administered Tribal Area, a semi-autonomous region lying between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is told in vignettes and chronicles the progression of fairly recent history through the life of Tor Baz - from small boy, to young man, through adulthood, and into late middle and early old age.
The story does not pull any punches. There is violence - both on an individual level and on a larger scale. There is conflict - sometimes personal, sometimes inter-tribal, sometimes between tribal authority and governmental authority. Yet, there is a harsh beauty even in the violence. It doesn't excuse or condone the violence, just gives an insight into it and the people who commit it and are victimized by it.
The Wandering Falcon shows a well-crafted glimpse into traditions that have been around for generations and which have formed (along with the land) the people who live them. Those traditions, more often than not, come into conflict with more modern ways. Maybe, in a small way, they (and the book) may help explain why the region is the way it is.
'The mullah left the fort with the boy walking beside him and the little puppy, who had been with his new owner less than a month, trotting behind'. The boy - known as Tor Baz, the wandering falcon - journeys between tribes. Where does he come from, and what is his story? He meets men who fight under different flags, and women who risk everything if they break their society's code of honour. Set in the decades before the rise of the Taliban, Jamil Ahmad's stunning debut takes us to the essence of human life in the forbidden areas where the borders of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan meet. The media today speak often about 'the tribal areas' - a remote region; a hotbed of conspiracies, drone attacks and conflict. Now, for the first time, this traditional, honour-bound culture is revealed from the inside. Jamil Ahmad is seventy-eight years old and has spent long years among the people of the frontier. In "The Wandering Falcon", he describes a world of custom and cruelty, of love and gentleness, of hardship and survival, a fragile, unforgiving world that is changing as modern forces make themselves known. With the fate-defying story of Tor Baz, he has written an unforgettable novel of insight, compassion and timeless wisdom.