Central Asia

Giovanni DiPlano Carpini's "The Story Of The Mongols Whom We Call The Tartars"
China

Giovanni da Pian del Carpine

The papal spy.

In the mid-13th century, a few years after the Mongol attacks on Eastern Europe, Italian cleric Giovanni da Pian del Carpine gets a mission from the Pope…

Philippe Valéry's "On The Silk Road"
Afghanistan

Philippe Valéry

Not personal enough.

In the late 1990s, French manager Philippe Valéry is in his thirties when he decides to walk from Marseille to Kashgar…

Guillaume de Rubrouck's "Account of the Mongols"
Armenia

William of Rubruck

For the king.

In the middle of the 13th century, a Franciscan monk called William of Rubruck gets dispatched to Mongolia by his king, Louis IX of France…

Sun Shuyun's "Ten Thousand Miles Without A Cloud"
China

Sun Shuyun

A contemplative story.

In the late 1990s, UK-based Chinese writer Sun Shuyun returns to China, driven by stories told to her by her grandmother, a devout Buddhist…

Jehan de Mandeville's "The Travels"
Afghanistan

Jean de Mandeville

The real Baudolino.

In the 14th century, English knight Jean de Mandeville claims to have traveled around much of the known (and unknown) world…

Sven Hedin's "In The Heart Of Asia"
China

Sven Hedin

The guy with the boot.

In 1893, at the height of the Great Game between Tsarist Russia and the British Empire, Swedish explorer Sven Hedin decides to follow in the footsteps of Ferdinand von Richthofen (who coined the term “Silk Road”) and Nikolai Przhevalsky and explore the Chinese Northwest…

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta's "The Travels"
Afghanistan

Ibn Battuta

A wagging finger.

In 1325, young Moroccan scholar Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta embarks on his hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. But he doesn’t stop there…

Johann Schiltberger's "The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger"
Afghanistan

Johann Schiltberger

A (medieval) average Joe.

In 1394, Johann Schiltberger is still a teenager when he embarks on what historians have later dubbed the “Last Crusade”. He gets captured in the Battle of Nicopolis and serves as a slave to the Ottomans for six years…

Marco Polo's "Description Of The World"
Afghanistan

Marco Polo

The ultimate travelogue is a bit slow.

In the 13th century, Marco Polo, a merchant’s son from Venice, accompanies his dad and his uncle on a decades-long trip to China and back…