These oral tales were collected in the tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghan frontier, a region described as the last free place on earth. It was here that the caravan routes from Persia, India and China once converged. With their blend of wit, fantasy, comedy and romance, they reflect the Pashtun code of honour and way of life that are now seriously threatened by social changes and recent political events. Most of them, such as the epic tale of Hazrat Ali, have never been recorded before, and might otherwise have been lost forever. Some are recognisable as universal types, such as a version of "Androcles and the Lion" and of the tale that provided Shakespeare with the plot of "King Lear".