Tartarus Press


Time, A Falconer is a sewn hardback of 138+vii pages, printed lithographically, with silk ribbon marker, head and tailbands, and d/w. Illustrated.


Limited to 400 copies.


ISBN 978-1-905784-26-4


Hardback: £25.00 inc. free p&p worldwide


European customers, please note that customs fees may now be chargeable on some books.

Time, A Falconer

A Study of Sarban


Mark Valentine


In this new biographical study Mark Valentine enables us to understand more of John William Wall (1910-1989), the diffident, compassionate, highly intelligent and sensitive man who wrote under the pseudonym Sarban.


Until recently very little was known about the writer. His three published books, Ringstones (1951), The Sound of His Horn (1952) and The Doll Maker (1953) hinted at a complex personality, and the little available information has only added to the fascination he has exercised. The Sound of His Horn, a cult classic, explores the possibilities of what would have happened if Germany had won World War Two, and was much admired by Kingsley Amis. This science fiction fantasy has been often reprinted, but until recently all that readers were allowed to know of Sarban was that he 'worked in the East and longed for England'.


Mark Valentine, however, has delved into the author's own archive and is now able to present us with this study and introductory biography of Sarban. Valentine follows Wall from his working-class roots in Yorkshire through a scholarship to Cambridge University and a distinguished diplomatic career in the Foreign Office and subsequent postings in Cairo, Jedda, Tabriz, Isfahan, Casablanca, Salonika and Paraguay. After leaving the Foreign Office in 1967, Wall worked at GCHQ Cheltenham before his final retirement. And all through his working life Sarban wrote fascinating and subtle fiction of the fantastic.



'It is somewhat unsettling to imagine this quiet man sorting out visa applications or attending dull formal receptions and all the while brooding on the taloned cat-women.' Robert Irwin, The Literary Review.

'Insightful... [Valentine] illuminates his study of Sarban's fiction with observations gleaned from the author's private diaries and correspondence, and offers particularly cogent insights on how the women in Sarban's life shaped the mystique of female characters in his fiction.' Publishers Weekly

'A sensitive and sympathetic portrait … [Valentine] weaves his analyses of Sarban’s fiction seamlessly into the broader tapestry spun from the known biographical facts. The result is a thoroughly engrossing account of the writer’s intellectual growth and interests in the course of his lifetime.' Stefan Dziemianowicz, Locus, June 2011

'... a handsome volume with numerous illustrations, and a welcome addition to any library of scholarship on the supernatural.' The Stars at Noonday



Limited edition hardbacks available by Mark Valentine:

Sphinxes & Obelisks

The Nightfarers (short stories)

Time, A Falconer: A Study of Sarban (biography)


Paperbacks available by Mark Valentine

A Wild Tumultory Library (essays)Haunted by Books (essays)

A Country Still All Mystery (essays)

The Herald of the Hidden (short stories)

Secret Europe (short stories, with John Howard)

Inner Europe (short stories with John Howard)The Collected Connoisseur (short stories, with John Howard)


Ebooks available by Mark Valentine

The Nightfarers (short stories)

A Wild Tumultory Library (essays)

A Country Still All Mystery (essays)

Haunted by Books (essays)

The Herald of the Hidden (short stories)

The Collected Connoisseur (short stories, with John Howard)

Secret Europe (short stories, with John Howard)

Inner Europe (short stories with John Howard)

Copyright Tartarus Press 2021