When the Spanish conquistadors swept through Peru in the sixteenth century, they were searching for great golden treasure. In 1572 they stormed the Inca stronghold of Vilcabamba, only to find the city deserted, burned, and already stripped of its wealth. According to legend the Incas had retreated deep into the jungle where they built another magnificent city in an inaccessible quarter of the cloud forest.
For more than four centuries explorers and adventurers, archaeologists and warrior-priests have searched for the gold and riches of the Incas, and this lost city of Paititi, known by the local Machiguenga tribe as 'The House of the Tiger King'.
After the lost city obsession had gnawed away at Tahir Shah for almost a decade, he could stand it no more. He put together an expedition and set out into Peru's Madre de Dios jungle, the densest cloud forest on Earth. He teamed up with Pancho, a Machiguenga warrior who asserted that in his youth he came upon a massive series of stone ruins deep in the jungle. Pancho's ambition was to leave the jungle and visit a 'live', bustling city, so the two men made a pact: if Pancho took Shah to Paititi, then Shah would take Pancho to the Peruvian capital.
House of the Tiger King is the tale of Shah's remarkable adventure to find the greatest lost city of the Americas, and the treasure of the Incas. Along the way he found himself considering others who have spent decades in pursuit of lost cities, and asks why anyone would find it necessary to mount such a quest at all.