One of my fave reads - two miscreant ne'erdowells depart on an adventure to become rulers of Kafiristan in what is now a province of Afghanistan. Once there, they intend to befriend a king, train his men and then take over the country. There are elements of the book that are fact, the narrator is loosely based on Kipling, the people of Kafiristan are Europen like in appearance, Dravot and Carnehan, the adventurers are inspired by the likes of James Brook and Josiah Hartan who became rulers of Srawark and Ghor respectively in real life.
The story starts with the newspaper man meeting up with two adventurers and freemasons then, some months later, in a newspaper office in Lahore, he listens to the two ex soldiers plan to head north, become rich and live the life of Riley, they read him their pact which includes forsaking both alcohol and women and gives them access to maps and books before bidding farewell the following day.
Two years later only Carnehan returns to tell the tale of how Daniel Dravot became a king and then lost it all.
It's a great story and one that I've always enjoyed reading, quite happy to pick up and read over time and time again.