Author: Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta
Title: The Travels (edited by al-Bailuni)
Destination: Asia, Northern Africa, Eastern Europe
Length: 29 years
Type: overland & by ship
A wagging finger
[Please note: I’ve been reading a German translation that is based on the abridged edition published by al-Bailuni in the 17th century.]
The story: AAMIB is only a very young man when he embarks on his hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. But he doesn’t stop there. Instead he goes on and on and on, and several travels during the next three decades will take him almost everywhere in the known world – he is much like Marco Polo, or Johann Schiltberger, Fernão Mendes Pinto or John Mandeville.
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta – a medieval writer
Of course, being a man of the Middle Ages, there is more that he has in common with those other guys: their world is full of magic and mystery (and also prejudice). They don’t compose stories with defined plots, like modern readers might expect them to. And nobody can ever be sure if what they are saying is true or not.
Considering all of the above, this one was okay. For one thing, AAMIB really gets around. And much like Marco Polo’s travelogue, this one is fun to read when the author is trying to show off his awesomeness (it seems like he owns an official post, money, and a wife in every other place he visits).
a bit slow
But on the other hand, I found this book a bit slow at times. While Marco Polo had his humorous remarks about sexual customs, and Johann Schiltberger had the raw credibility of someone who walked with the infamous Tamerlan, AAMIB seemed a bit stiff most of the time, as if he was constantly wagging his finger at the things that went against his Muslim beliefs. That doesn’t make it bad, but it’s a bit slow.
Maybe because of that beautiful, magical name my expectations were too high?
It’s a 6/10.