From Publishers Weekly
Pulitzer Prize winner–Chabon (The Yiddish Policemen's Union
) recreates 10th-century Khazaria, the fabled kingdom of wild red-haired Jews on the western shore of the Caspian Sea, in this sprightly historical adventure. Zelikman and Amram, respectively a gawky Frank and a gigantic Abyssinian, make their living by means of confidence tricks, doctoring, bodyguarding and the occasional bit of skullduggery along the Silk Road. The unlikely duo find themselves caught up in larger events when they befriend Filaq, the headstrong and unlikable heir to the recently deposed war king of the Khazars. Their attempts to restore Filaq to the throne make for a terrifically entertaining modern pulp adventure replete with marauding armies, drunken Vikings, beautiful prostitutes, rampaging elephants and mildly telegraphed plot points that aren't as they seem. Chabon has a wonderful time writing intentionally purple prose and playing with conventions that were most popular in the days of Rudyard Kipling and Talbot Mundy. Gary Gianni's elegant illustrations, a cross between Vierge's art for Don Quixote
and Brundage's Weird Tales
covers, perfectly complement the historical adventure. A significant change from Chabon's weightier novels, this dazzling trifle is simply terrific fun. (Oct.)
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Gentlemen of the Road
, compared by the New York Times Book Review
to "the stories found in 19th-century dime novels and the fantastic escapades invented by Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard," was first published in serial form in the New York Times Sunday Magazine
. Critics quickly pointed out the telltale signs of the multiple-installment format: new characters, settings, and plot twists in every chapter, which result in a fast, sometimes confusing, pace. Chabon’s lush, memorable prose shines here despite the obscurity of some of his language. A few critics complained of uninteresting characters and outlandish scenarios, while most complimented the charming illustrations by Gary Gianni. This 21st-century spin on the old-fashioned adventure tale won’t be to everyone’s taste, but adventurous readers wishing to experience Chabon’s amazing literary range are in for a thrilling, outrageous joyride.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.