Chains of Heaven
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Philip Marsden returns to the remote, fiercely beautiful landscape that has exercised a powerful mythic appeal over him since his first encounter with it over twenty years ago. ‘Ethiopia bred in me the conviction that if there is a wider purpose to our life, it is to understand the world, to seek out its diversity, to celebrate its heroes and its wonders – in short, to witness it.’ When Philip Marsden first went to Ethiopia in 1982, it changed the direction of his life. What he saw of its stunning antiquity, its raw Christianity, its extremes of brutality and grace prompted his curiosity, and made him a writer. But Ethiopia at that time was torn apart by civil war. The north, the ancient heartland of the country, was closed off. Twenty years later, Marsden returned. The result is this book – the account of a journey deferred. Walking hundreds of miles through a landscape of cavernous gorges, tabletop mountains and semi-desert, Marsden encounters monks and hermits, rebels and farmers. And he creates an unforgettable picture of one of the most remote regions left on earth. As in his award-winning book ‘The Spirit-Wrestlers’, Marsden reminds us of the brilliant heights that travel writing can attain, whilst celebrating the ageless rewards of the open road and the people for whom the mythic and the everyday are inextricably joined.