The hereditary monarchy of the Wangchuk dynasty was established in 1907. The new order replaced a theocracy founded in the 17th century by the first of the Dharma Rajas, a lineage of reincarnating lamas known by the title of Shabdrung. The first king of the new dynasty, Ugyen Wangchuk (1862-1926), was a charismatic figure who came to power against a turbulent background of incessant and complex feuding. The unique symbol of his authority is a crown surmounted by the head of a raven, representing a form of Mahakala, Bhutan s guardian deity. The prototype had been devised as a battle helmet for his father, Jigme Namgyel (1825-81). Known as the Black Regent, he had worn it in bloody struggles against his many rivals within the country and against the British, who failed to subdue him. The story of the dynasty s rise and triumph moves from a picture of turmoil and chaos to one of relative peace and stability. The book is copiously illustrated with rare historical photographs that have come to light in private and public collections in the United Kingdom. Most of these vivid images have never previously been published. They provide a lively depth and focus to the unfolding narrative.