Primarily I speak of the series of thrillers that feature Richard Hannay, including the most popular Thirty-Nine Steps (1915). And I say this notwithstanding the observations of his work as a writer, his career in government service, and his character that I will present in this essay.
In 1921 Buchan's The Path of the King was published. It consists of 14 chapters, each a vignette from a brilliantly evoked historical period, following chronologically from the death of a Viking king (Chapter 1) to the childhood (Chapter 13) and death (Chapter 14) of Abraham Lincoln. The publisher Simon & Schuster describes the protagonists of the intermediate chapters: "a Norman knight who fought under Duke William and settled in England; a French knight, emissary of Saint Louis to Kubla Khan; a proud demoiselle, friend to Jeanne d'Arc; a French gentleman who went with Columbus on his second voyage; an avenger of Saint Bartholomew's Day; a friend to Sir Walter Raleigh; a supporter of Cromwell; a soldier of fortune under Marlborough; a mighty hunter in Virginia—all these, says Mr. Buchan, were Lincoln's forebears.