There have been many biographies of Sir Richard Burton, the renowned and enigmatic Victorian explorer, ethnologist, archaeologist, author, translator, and one of the greatest linguists of his era. Curiously, however, there have been no major novels based on Burton’s extraordinary life. Iliya Troyanov, in a remarkable German novel Der Weltensammler, has corrected this omission. The English translation of his work, The Collector of Worlds, has created a sensual adventure, and an exploration of Burton’s behaviour. Burton was a brilliantly charismatic scholar and adventurer. Even from an early age he set out to learn all he could about swords and guns. Duelling, riding, smoking, gambling and experiments with various forms of debauchery propelled him through a precocious adolescence, at the end of which, despite an obsession with the acquisition of languages, especially Arabic, he was sent down from Trinity College, Oxford.