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Quest for Kim: 02/24/07

Quest for Kim

Quest for Kim I received through the now defunct relay site. As I have enjoyed every Kipling book, story and poem that I've read but hadn't read Kim, I though this book would be good inspiration to get me reading Kim. Having finished Kim earlier this year I decided to read Peter Hopkirk's follow up to the book while the novel was still fresh in my head.

Hopkirk comes across through his written as the biggest fan of Kim ever. He gushes his enthusiasm and love of Kipling's novel throughout his chapters. Happily he includes illustrations of the places and items he is describing, helping to bring alive his account of his travels through Pakistan and India and his research at home in England.

My favorite chapter in both Kim and Quest for Kim is account of riding the Te-rain. In Kim's case, it is a noisy and crowded adventure whereas in Hopkirk's time it is an amusing and sometimes bewildering exercise in futility. The on-going boarder war between Pakistan and India has made the old line impossible to ride save for one very guarded weekly express train. After Hopkirk describes his impossible quest to ride the route described in Kim he goes onto outline the bloodshed that happened on this train line during the partition in August 1947.

Hopkirk gives a chapter for each major even in Kim, even if he is unable to find through research definitive answers to a location's whereabouts or history. In the chapters where his research draws a blank he pads the chapters with plot synopsis. In all fairness, he does warn early on that he had to force himself to just reiterate Kipling's book even though he was tempted out of his love for the book. As this book reads more like a personal question than a scholarly analysis these momentary lapses into plot summary are forgivable.

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