This is a wonderful read. It’s got everything – friendship, betrayal, shame, honour, bravery, hatred, grief and redemption – the whole gamut of human experience.
The story revolves around the central character’s two most important relationships – his father and his best friend, set against the backdrop of the troubles in Afghanistan. Saying any more about the plot might lessen your enjoyment of the book, so I will refrain from doing so!
Parts of the book are painful to read. It’s not a story for those who want an easy time from their novels. The author does not spare his readers from the more disturbing aspects of human life particularly in the context of war and unheaval – the casual cruelty, the killing of innocence, the sickness of fanaticism.
However, for readers looking for depth and complexity in their characters, you cannot easily find a better example. Although a grotesque villain is brought to life in the novel in the guise of Assef, betrayal and cowardice are present in the book’s central figures. In fact, it’s this betrayal and cowardice that forms a central theme in the book, making it such a fascinating read.
A strong emotional bond with Afghanistan is painted in the book. Afghan people are portrayed as proud, generous, talkative but sometimes hypocritical and stubborn. I noted strong parallels with the Irish way of life, or at least a way of life that used to exist in Ireland, but now, perhaps, is in rapid decline.
When all is said, there is a gripping story to tell here. The denouements in the text are wonderful – I frequently found myself gasping as the plot twisted, sometimes in the most surprising of ways.
I absolutely loved the book and would gladly recommend others to read it.