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The Collector of Worlds is a meditation on the extraordinary life of infamous explorer Sir Richard Burton. The first westerner to make the hajj to Mecca, he also discovered the source of the Nile with Speke. His translation of the "Arabian Nights" is one of the great moments in the encounter between Islam and the West, that scandalised his contemporaries with its salty eroticism. Troyanov's novel does full justice to this great, controversial mediator between cultures. The book imagines his encounter with India as a young officer, and brings to life his trials and travels through the eyes of his Indian servant, the Sharif of Mecca and the former slave who guided Burton to the Nile.