In the first chapter of Landfalls, Tim Mackintosh-Smith finds himself in Kilwa-Kisiwani, on the coast of Tanzania, locked in a handshake with a witch-doctor. "You wouldn't want to meet him in the woods," he writes, clearly both alarmed and intrigued.
Mackintosh-Smith is once again hot on the trail of Ibn Battutah, "the greatest traveller in human history" who left Tangier in 1325 and roamed the known world for the next 29 years. Mackintosh-Smith narrates the next portion of his own quest from various points in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, China, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Andalusia, and finally from the Rue de Richelieu in Paris where he leafs through a 14th-century manuscript, entranced.
Don't be put off by the seemingly exhausting itinerary, as Mackintosh-Smith again proves he is one of the world's greatest living travel writers. Acutely observed, the beautiful writing is laced with wide-ranging historical and literary references, proving not only the writer's own learning but the fascinating period in which Ibn Battutah lived. Unlike the manic Tanzanian witch-doctor, one would happily meet Mackintosh-Smith to hear more of his tales anywhere.