In Xanadu is William Dalrymples first book, and his 3rd book that I have read after City of Djinns and The Last Moghul.
Unlike the other 2 books, which deal more with the people and their lives, In Xanadu is more a personal journey story by the young William. In this book, he undertakes the journey following in the steps of Marco Polo all the way to Xanadu - the summer palace of the Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan. At the time of Marco Polo this route was a major route on the silk routes, but not much known to the western world.
At the time WD undertakes the journey, the world has transformed a lot. In giving descriptions of the places where they are travelling through and comparing with notes from Marco Polo one feels the differences that have undergone. Some routes are just too dangerous or just not doable due to political reasons which were part of the main thoroughfares. A kind of comparative history of the route takes place all throughout the journey.
Another feature that I felt was quite apparent was the differences in descriptions. While the world of Delhi was populated with colorful characters and you can imagine the various scenes in Delhi, the populance of the journey almost seems drab. It could also be because I am reading about places that I do not know much about. Ultimately, it felt to me, that India with all its shortcomings, is just a place which warms the heart more.
If you want my opinion of the book - I can say that you can give it a pass. Nothing really sticks to my mind about the book. Probably it is as I say before - I am unable to visualize the places that the journey took place through.
Next book is "9 lives" and the update will be up in a few days.