Hoshruba: The Land and the TilismIn late nineteenth century Lucknow, two rival story-tellers, Syed Muhammad Husain
Jah and Ahmed Husain Qamar, wrote a fantasy in the Urdu language whose equal had not been
heard before, and which has never been rivalled since. It was called Tilism-e Hoshruba. The
writers claimed that the tale had been passed down to them from story-tellers going back centuries:
it was a part of the beloved oral epic, The Adventures of Amir Hamza which had come to the
Indian subcontinent via Persia and had gained in popularity during the reign of Akbar, the Mughal
The Tilism-e-Hoshruba is the subcontinent’s first wholly indigenous Indo-Islamic fantasy epic.
It tells the stories of Amir Hamza’s military forces, his grandson and his loyal band of tricksters
(masters of wit and disguise) as they go to war with Afrasiyab, the sorcerer who rules the magical
land of Hoshruba. Fantasy, the occult, adventure and romance play themselves out in a typically
Indian setting as wizards, sorceresses, tricksters and royalty pitch themselves into the battle for
Hoshruba. The characters of the epic are marvels of literary creation, and are much more colourful
and dashing than those of the Amir Hamza cycle of tales.
The Tilism-e Hoshruba runs to twenty four volumes and will be translated into English for the first
time ever by Musharraf Ali Farooqi, the acclaimed translator of The Adventures of Amir Hamza.
Random House India will publish all the volumes starting with Hoshruba: The Land and the Tilism,
i.e. Book 1 of the series.