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To the Last City is set deep in the Peruvian Andes, where five ill-prepared travellers - men and women with different values, temperaments and motives - find themselves trekking through one of the most exacting and beautiful regions on earth. It is a journey which may temper or destroy them. They confront not only their relationships with one another, but also the enigmas of the country's past, the dangers of its present, and the limitations of their own minds and bodies. The 'lost city' of their destination is Vilcabamba, last refuge of the Inca against the Spaniards, subsumed by jungle for four hundred years. In this brilliant exploration of the psychological challenges of travelling, set within the exotic jungle of South America, Colin Thubron for the first time joins his highly acclaimed talents as a travel writer with his gifts as a novelist.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099437239
ISBN-10: 0099437236
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 11mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 5-Jun-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


UK Kirkus Review » High in the Peruvian Andes, five travellers are making their way along perilous mountain paths, past thundering waterfalls and through dense jungle, in search of the famous Inca city Vilcabamba. This is the story of their journey, not only to Vilcabamba but also to the depths of their own inner beings. Apart from their destination, the explorers appear to have little in common. Louis is a redundant Belgian architect, pampered, unfit and besotted with his glamorous young French wife, Josiane. Robert, a journalist, is passionate about Inca history, obsessively writing notes for a book which we fear will never be written. He prides himself on his self-control, and is appalled when he finds himself attracted to Josiane. His wife, Camilla, has her own unwelcome yearnings to contend with; she is drawn to Francisco, a trainee priest who is weighed down by the inherited guilt of his Spanish ancestors, conquistadors who massacred the Inca people, ravaging their fertile lands in search of gold. As these ill-assorted travellers draw nearer their goal, they experience ever-increasing physical distress. The glorious beauty of their surroundings becomes irrelevant, as they struggle to drag themselves along the mountain trails, where one slip can mean death over the plunging edge of a precipice. When one of the party is struck down by a fever, the unexpected respite forces them all to take stock and re-examine their lives. Colin Thubron is highly regarded both as a travel writer and a gifted novelist. In this powerful novel he demonstrates the magnificence of his writing to its fullest extent, conjuring up vibrant images of the jungle's ripe lushness skilfully juxtaposed with snapshot scenes of ruined Inca temples. This beautifully constructed novel shows that the power of the nature will always be mightier than the arrogance of men. The relentless, fecund vegetation thrusts its way defiantly through the buildings of the Vilcabamba ruins; this same merciless energy will, in the end, defeat the weary travellers. (Kirkus UK)

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Author Biography - Colin Thubron

Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing, and the winner of many prizes and awards. His first writing was about the Middle East - Damascus, Lebanon and Cyprus. In 1982 he travelled into the Soviet Union in an ancient Morris Marina, pursued by the KGB, a journey he recorded in Among the Russians. From these early experiences developed his classic travel books: Behind the Wall (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Award), The Lost Heart of Asia, In Siberia (Prix Bouvier) and Shadow of the Silk Road (all available in Vintage). In 2010 Colin Thubron became President of the Royal Society of Literature.

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