Book review: Last of the Tasburai

Valour, vanity, vengeance – courage has many faces, as described in the Dubai-based author Rehan Khan's debut novel.

The Tasburai warriors described in the book are a cross between Japanese samurai and Sufi mystics.
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Rehan Khan's debut fantasy novel, Last of the Tasburai, is an exciting combination of Japanese samurai and Sufi mysticism – combined with the teachings of Aristotle.

The United Kingdom-born Khan, 43, works in Dubai as a regional consulting director for an FTSE 100 corporation and is a professor at an international business school. “My day job puts bread on the table for the family, the teaching provides the butter to put on the bread, then the novel is the jam that sweetens the bread,” he says.

The book, which hit shelves in the UAE earlier this month, was primarily inspired by the ancient Greek thinker Aristotle and his philosophy.

“I wanted to write a story in which courage was placed at the centre,” says Khan.

“For Aristotle, when courage was the golden mean [the desirable middle between two extremes], it was about having a sense of valour, steadfastness and dignity in terms of how you conduct yourself.

“In excess, courage became ­arrogance, pride and quickness to anger. In deficit, it became cowardice and meanness. So that got me thinking, what would happen if the very best people in a particular society – the ones everyone admires – lost their sense of what it means to be courageous?”

And so the notion of the Tasburai warrior – a cross between the samurai and Sufi mystics – was born. The Tasburai are an elite, selfless warrior class who have lost their sense of balance and turned to extremism.

The plot follows the warriors through a tale of power, politics and war, set in the fictional Avantolian peninsula.

It centres on five main ­characters: Tasburai apprentice Adan, feisty young thief Ylva, army captain Rikard, Princess Elsta and grand­master Suri-Yi. As the story unfolds, their lives unexpectedly interweave as they face internal battles to find courage and overcome the danger that faces them all.

One reviewer on Amazon­ ­describes the book as: "Game of Thrones meets Lord of the Rings with a hint of Harry ­Potter."

“If you’re a young adult, you’ll probably read it as an epic fantasy with fast-paced action and heroism,” says Khan. “But adults will find deeper themes that resonate.”

Last of the Tasburai costs Dh60 and is available in ­Kinokuniya bookshop at The Dubai Mall