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Confessions of a Gourmand, or How to Cook a Dragon [Kindle Edition]

Tom Bruno
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99
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  • Length: 353 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

Van d'Allamitri is destined to become the most famous chef in all of the Three Continents-- if only he can survive his childhood first! Son of a Shan-li restaurateur and a far trader from the great merchant city of Varo, young Van proves to be a natural talent in the kitchen, transforming the simplest of ingredients into delicious meals capable of enchanting the hearts of those who eat them. But when disaster strikes and the hated Varonians invade his sleepy home village, Van must choose between honoring the culinary traditions of his mother and following in the footsteps of his cosmopolitan but ne'er-do-well father.

Armed with his trusty chef's knife and an enchanted wok containing the trapped soul of his ancestor, Van will cook many meals and face many dangers-- from treacherous slavers and bloodthirsty mercenaries to the Gorgon Queens of Chocolate and their terrible reptilian pets-- all the while unraveling the mystery of his father's past and setting into motion an explosive confrontation between his people and a powerful empire. Confessions of a Gourmand is a novel about family, fantasy, and food set in a deliciously imagined world where dragons are not only real, but on the menu as well.

Product Details

  • File Size: 561 KB
  • Print Length: 353 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003H05Y24
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,094,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You hear a lot about "world building" in the spec fic / sci fi / fantasy genres--this is the first book I've seen that goes at the problem largely through food. There are plenty of well drawn races and places, each with its own quirks and qualities to set it apart, and each with its own lovingly described cuisine. Making Medusa the queen of the chocolate bean, for example, is a great stroke (and leads to some interesting plot twists). Imagine sci fi channel meets cooking channel, but better written. A good book to get lost in for a while, most definitely worth a read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very exciting February 7, 2012
By Endiny
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Three chapters into this book I was interested in the style it's written in, and by chapter 10 the content was living up to the promise.

The frame of this book is great, almost a stream of conscious from an exciting character (one devoted to the gastronomic arts.)It gives you a sense of where he is now, then begins to start an odd sort of autobiography. The world itself is excellent, and explained in a thousand small comments that flow very smoothly in the narrative. It's extremely immerssive and unique in my experience.

I highly recommend the reading this fun, exciting and suprising.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious self-parody February 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The writer is, as other reviewers noted, pushing the boundary of the fantasy genre by focusing on food more than on sex and war (not that he neglects either.) What he is also doing is a sort of subtle parody of the genre, with over-the-top use of over-the-top superlatives. The result is quite enjoyable, although toward the end the breathlessness sobers up a bit. The self-reference to the book in the closing chapter leads to an epilogue that fails to account for the inclusion of the dragon-cooking prologue, since the character puts a specific time stamp on the date of the book's supposed writing that is before he has met the characters described in the prologue. (The problem would have been easily fixed if a copy editor had struck out the reference to the book's opening line from the description of the unfinished manuscript in the narrator's possession.)

However, the author more than makes up for this sloppiness with world-class novelist's incorporation of philosophical wisdom in the text.
"Life is a mess of raw ingredients. Sometimes if you're fortunate you are able to transform it into something palatable, even delicious; other times [...] like a soup with too much salt, you wonder how such a promising batch of ingredients could produce such a toxic result."

The narrator might have been talking about himself (or his author) when he says "Never trust a food critic who speaks in absolutes, for how indeed do they know enough about cuisine to pronounce something the very worst or the very best?"

All in all a good read. If for nothing else, read it for the two big scenes where the present narrative and flashback intertwine, linked by (what else) a similar flavor or recipe!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book, highly recommended February 5, 2012
By rockeh
Format:Kindle Edition
I've noticed something about most fantasy novels, especially where dragons are concerned. They (the novels, not the dragons) focus quite a lot on creating a believable world, populating it, explaining motives and detailing events. That's all fine and dandy -- that's why we read fantasy, after all.

But there is a distinct lack in them: they completely gloss over the aspect of food (which is rather essential, as food is one of the things that keep one from dying). We're informed that the characters ate, and if the author is feeling sufficiently benevolent, we might even be told what they ate (and for most heroic fantasy, that's probably going to be some sort of rabbit stew). Almost nobody, though, explains where said food came from, who cooked it, how it was cooked, how it was served or what dessert would go best with it, should one not currently be in mortal danger.

Well, Tom Bruno has apparently decided that this sad state of affairs bears correction, and has admirably succeeded.

The world he created is at once believable and fantastic, peopled with various races of men, ogres, cyclopes and so forth, all of them with qualities, flaws, and culinary habits; given that the narrator is primarily a cook, these last are explained in detail, with the passion one generally sees only in cooking shows.

Make no mistake, though: the dragon-cooking part referenced in the title is dealt with mainly in the prologue, the rest of the novel being one captivating adventure after another, masterfully written and comical.

All in all, a great read, and highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 June 5, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Most famous chef in the known world and his autobiography ends 17? I'm just akin' 'cause, you know, seems maybe something got left out. No really, he's writing this history as an 'old man' but it only covers birth to 17. Where are the next, oh, 50-80 years? Ok, I'm being overly critical and maybe a little priggish, but I've got a point right?

Now about those first 17 years...they're pretty awesome. In the tradition of epic tales everywhere, Vin manages to heroically be in the right place at the right time (It's actually often the wrong place at the wrong time, but who's counting?) to make friends and influence people. By age six, he's garnering the attention of kings, by mid-adolescence he's wooing queens and rescuing the huddled masses and by 17 he's changing local history and striking out on his own. Cool.

By 17 I'd paired combat boots with my minidress and silently dared my father to oppose my free expression of prescribed fashion anarchy. So, I'm duly impressed with Vin's accomplishments. There were some definite, 'well wasn't that convenient' moments, but they were generally overshadowed by my basic enjoyment of the tale and Vin's voice.

The story is, narrated in a marvellously conversational tone, by an eminently likeable main character. Vin's willingness to admit to his own faults makes him hard to resist and Bruno's ability to somehow thread Vin's narrative with subtle emotional shifts made it feel real, despite it' fantasy setting.

The book does drag in the middle. Counterintuitively, this is when Vin ages past his culture's version of childhood, leaves home for the first time, travels, discovers women, etc. You would think this would be where the book picks up.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great tale
A very great tale. I got caught up in Van's life story, this is funny and well written novel about a boy's life born to cook and taste the world.
Published 6 months ago by No name needed
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I never finished this one, it was too slow a start
Published 6 months ago by Lynn Christensen
5.0 out of 5 stars Parody and allegory combine for an over-the-top read!
This is one of those rare books that I did not want to end! BTW, the recipe for cooking a dragon appears in the prologue. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Patricia Austin
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the oddest and most entrancing reads I've ever had the pleasure...
One thing is for sure when you read this book, you are hardly going to find yourself bored. The characters are notable and I find myself wondering to all of their back stories. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A different take on Fantasy
This is a compelling and world spanning adventure, it is told from the sidelines of that world by a person that meets the shakers and movers but isn't one himself. Read more
Published 22 months ago by MMaranda
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly great.
Witty coming of age tale set in a fantasy world with recognizable cultures. I did not expect this book to be so witty and heartwarming. Read more
Published 23 months ago by S.Lynne Church
4.0 out of 5 stars Grade: B
Grade: B

L/C Ratio: 40/60
(This means I estimate the author devoted 40% of his effort to creating a literary work of art and 60% of his effort to creating a... Read more
Published on August 22, 2012 by Bennett Gavrish
4.0 out of 5 stars A Uniquely-Flavored Fantasy Tale
It isn't often one gets something completely different in fantasy. While the core story - the son with the missing father, the coming-of-age journey through a world filled with... Read more
Published on June 18, 2012 by T. Weber
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More About the Author

Tom Bruno has been writing ever since he learned to read. A librarian at Yale University, Tom lives in Milford, Connecticut with his wife, daughter, and baby boy. When he's not writing, working, or riding the train back and forth to New Haven, Tom enjoys fishing, cooking, hiking, and playing Skee-Ball (aka The Greatest Sport of All Time).

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