A rich and unsettling novel about storytelling, evil and fakery. On the heels of Jonathan Buckley's marvellously assured debut -- 'multilayered and captivating,' Daily Telegraph; 'A spontaneous and searching picture of a life,' IoS -- comes his dazzling second novel. Set in Germany in the 1820s, Ettlinger, a young scholar who has been commissioned to design and build a chapel, finds himself increasingly swept up in a circle of friends who regularly meet to joust and outwit each other with stories. At the same time he receives from Wolgast, a local collector of antiques, an invitation to use his library to assist him in his research. But over the coming weeks, Wolgast's hand of friendship seems increasingly sinister and poisonous, his house more an anteroom in Hell. Threaded with the story of the kingdom of Xerxes, a cautionary tale about a paradise lost, Xerxes is a tense and frightening read, a brilliant examination of manipulative men and the shadow they cast.
Jonathan Buckley is a director of Rough Guides. The Biography of Thomas Lang, his first novel, was published in 1997.