The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad – Book Review

The Wandering Falcon by Jamil Ahmad is a story about a people, not a character. Which is why this book is not for everyone, including me. Here’s my review.

If any of you follow my Goodreads feed, you may have noticed that I left a comment wondering if The Wandering Falcon had a plot. I thought this was because I had put the book down for a year and had forgotten everything. But after reading user reviews on Goodreads, it turns out I was right, this book does not have a plot.

And despite having a main character, he is completely irrelevant and not needed to move the book forward.

Tor Baz is our original main character, but his presence in The Wandering Falcon does not weave the random stories together. This is a technique similar to the one Neil Gaiman used in The Sandman series. In Sandman, the lord of dreams makes a cameo in every single story that involves a character dreaming (which is all of them). In this context, having the Sandman as a cameo character, despite being the protagonist, makes sense. He is the lord of dreams.

In The Wandering Falcon, Tor Baz is just a man and not even one with political ambition or even a goal. He is literally, just a man. He’s not trying to find a cure for his ailing wife, he’s not looking for love, he’s not trying to save his country, he’s just a spectator.

That’s because The Wandering Falcon is not a book about characters, or plot, or inner conflict, or character growth. The Wandering Falcon is a story about the nomadic people of the Middle East and Asia. It is a story about Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and how their tribal people survive through wars and living on barren mountains.

Civilized society believes that betrothing your daughter is barbaric and cruel. In The Wandering Falcon, a father sells his daughter so that the family can survive and buy food and shelter. If the daughter runs away from her husband, the father must return the money paid for her. This is an awful practice, but to the tribes who live in the mountains, this was as common as withdrawing money from an ATM.

Truthfully, if I had known this book was about nomadic culture, I would not have read it. Reading this was like reading a well-written encyclopedia entry. Great for research, not so much entertainment.

Those who want a story to get lost in need to get lost somewhere else. The Wandering Falcon is a series of unrelated short stories tenuously linked by a non-critical main character.

The prose, however, is excellent. Had it not been for that interesting first chapter, this review would not have existed. The writing conjures great visuals and captures the essence of a people I have never met. This book, is a Norman Rockwell painting of nomads, the people of the desert mountains. And it is because of this reason that the reviews and ratings on this book are mixed.

A lot of people didn’t get it, and until I finished the book and read other reviews, I didn’t get it either. Despite not having a clear plot or character to follow, I found the depictions of nomadic societies utterly fascinating. To best describe the reading experience, it was like going to a museum and having a curator tell you interesting stories not included in the description plaque.

Contrary to what reviewers are saying, The Wandering Falcon is not a bad book, it is a fictional documentary containing a collection of raw footage that is interesting on its own but has no connective tissue linking to the other.

3 out of 5 stars.

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Wilmar Luna

Couldn't be a superhero in real life so he decided to write his own. When he's not creating empowered female characters he can be found watching films, reading books, and playing lots of video games. Buy his books here: