- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
A seasoned traveler and would-be adventurer, Tahir Shah presents a somewhat confusing, quietly funny, respectfully honest glimpse into the Incan mythic landscape in his travelogue Trail of Feathers. It's a wild ride as he stumbles from mountaintop to bone yard in search of evidence that the Inca mastered the art and science of flight before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores.
Shah's enthusiasm for his subject compels him to set a haphazard pace, giving the whole trip the air of an elaborate, unsettling scavenger hunt. His itinerary determined only by the mysterious clues he receives, Shah is guided by a motley band of earnest, slightly stereotypical characters, each one leading him in a new direction. In comic escapades that often resemble the work of Terry Pratchett, Shah's urgent search for clues about the Incan masters of flight -- the Birdmen -- leads him into plenty of provocative situations. Ultimately, the serendipitous nature of his journey and the gems of information about Peruvian culture that he uncovers are to be treasured. We discover that the secret of the Birdmen is tied to many other aspects of the culture, like the veneration of the condor and the sanctity of textiles, which were more valuable to the Inca than gold. In the middle of Shah's craziness, an overwhelming spirituality emerges.
Throughout his journey, Shah is reminded that how the Birdmen flew is not important, only why they flew. His manic trek from London to Machu Picchu, through Cusco, Nazca, Lake Titicaca, and down the Amazon River slowly leads him to realize that the Incan secret of flight is not in the mechanics. Only by relinquishing his occupation with things and embracing the incomprehensible does he discover that to fly, one must first believe. (Daniele Gair)