By Tahir Shah
By Arcade Publishing
4 stars out of 5
Do not confuse this with “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Tahir Shah writes a highly colorful and soul-searching tale of his time in India learning magic. Shah learns how to stop his pulse, freeze his body, and walk on hot coals. He says the last one is very easy because the soles of the feet and the coal ashes are poor conductors of heat.
Shah’s journey began at age 11 when a family friend taught him magic. The friend showed him how to eat glass with a banana and was getting into pyrotechnics when someone almost got hurt. Ashamed, the friend left and years later, Shah travels from England to India to find him.
Once there, the friend directs Shah to his own teacher, Hakim Feroze. This begins a grueling test of Shah’s passion.
Feroze is a tyrant. He beats down Shah physically and emotionally until Shah is frantically looking for ways to get back at him. Then, Feroze sends Shah on a quest to learn from the different godmen, conjurers, and mystics of India.
It may appear like a travel book, but Shah is adamant it is very different from the various pseudo-guidebooks of backpacking across Europe and African safaris. He wants to show the world his experiences of the mystical and magical side of India. He desires to unearth the underground of magic that runs strong in India.
He often speaks of India as a place where “the unbelievable is the norm.” Shah witnesses many awe-inspiring acts and then proceeds to use Feroze’s training to uncover how it happened. The magical events are broken down until a levitating person is simply standing with hockey sticks. Conjurers are merely conmen.Sleight-of-hand reigns and could have disastrous effects for the clients of so-called mystical healers.
“Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a story of a man trying to follow his passion and curiosity of magic, only to journey down a rabbit hole. It has all the elements of a real-life fantasy. It’s worth reading and the ending is perfect, although it took me a long time to conclude that.