Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure Paperback – September 30, 2008
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "Sweet Sorrow" by David Nicholls
"With fully fleshed-out characters, terrific dialogue, bountiful humor, and genuinely affecting scenes, this is really the full package of a rewarding, romantic read."—Booklist Learn more
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“Michael Chabon can write like a magical spider, effortlessly spinning out elaborate webs of words that ensnare the reader with their beauty and their style.”
–The New York Times
“[Michael Chabon] is, simply, the coolest writer in America.”
–The Christian Science Monitor
“[Chabon is a] stupendously gifted and accomplished writer . . . a writer not merely of rare skill and wit but of self-evident and immensely appealing generosity.”
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“Whether making us laugh or making us feel the breathtaking impermanence of things, Michael Chabon keeps us wide awake and reading.”
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“Chabon’s writing is elegant and limber.”
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“From his editorship of an issue of McSweeny’s to his Pulitzer Prize-winning Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Chabon has mined genre fiction and pop culture in pursuit of literary gold.”
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If they had been set down in this setting at the moment that the story started, Fafhrd and the Mouser could have had this adventure but many of the details and possibly the whole chain of events would have been different.
The setting is not an entirely invented world. It is south-central Asia during our own middle ages, centering on the Khazar kingdom The Silk Road is a time-honored setting for adventures and it certainly works here. Unlike Howard and Lieber and even Tolkien, who set up invented worlds, although each is supposed to be our world in an earlier age. His choice of settings allows Chabon to illustrate the awful fate of many women in what some people think of as "the good old days."
The other characters in the book are a little more three-dimensional than the minor characters in Lieber's adventures and much moreso than those in the Conan books. Chabon's mastery of narrative prose is nearly complete.
Chabon's afterward, where he discusses his writing history and how he has written both mainstream and genre works is quite interesting.
The chief flaw in this novel is that it it rather slight.
Zelikman - a white, thin and blond surgeon who carries a thin, sharp ,oversized bloodletting instrument as a sword, using his academic knowledge to his enemies misfortune and who is traumatized from watching his family slaughtered during the pogrom.
Amaram - a black, muscular ex-solider who wields an ax named "Defiler of Your Mother", who is still searching for his daughter that disappeared without giving up hope.
The adventures of this odd pair takes place sometime in the 10th Century when the two partners are collecting the money from a con they just pulled (a fake fight between the meek Frank with his needle and the huge ax wielding ex-solider) when they encounter a young man who claims to be the heir to the throne of the Jewish kingdom of Khazria, usurped by his brutal uncle.
This is a wonderful serial novel, in the best tradition of Alexander Dumas and the old time pulp written in a stylized language which I loved and sprinkled with obscure words, archaic references and a solid sense of humor.
How can you not love a book which has the following passage:
"Zelikman executed the difficult maneuver of mounting a horse at full gallop. To outside observes, of this desolate slope, very few, he must have looked as if he were trying to mount Hillel's saddle so much as to perform some foul outrage upon his neck."
All of it which adds to the charm of this wonderful, albeit short novel with lots of twists and cliff hangers aplenty.
This book of swashbuckling adventure is meant to be read and enjoyed - it does not delve into the depths of human psyche and is not weighed down by dramatic themes - it is just a pleasure to sit back and let your imagination loose as you go on an exotic quest of impossible odds with the "Gentlemen".
Most of the adult parts are so well written that the story can be read very young childern.
The book is important because it reminds MOT's that we were not all victims during the Middle Ages and there were Jewes serving as soldiers in the Byzantine Army, and those traveling the Slik Road were not meek shope keepers and scholars just waiting to be robbed or victimized.
I wish I found this book when my son was small, but he is a armored cavalry officer the United State's Army and has had his own adventures over the past few years.
Illustration are well done and remind me of my child's version of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy.
Top international reviews
Read it. You'll like it. Another one of those novels which helps you to imagine "what it was like then". And chuckles all the way.
Chabon is one of the finest and most original voices in contemporary literature and what makes him outstanding is that he tells stories in a way nobody else could. In almost all of his work there are references to his Jewish heritage (in my humble opinion most outstanding in his Yiddish Policemen Union) and you cannot tell a simple adventure story when the protagonists are (like his original title was) Jews with Swords. You must put it into perspective and that is what Chabon tries. I had fun reading this and I liked the subtle characterization of the personnel. Of course this is not the language of R.L. Stevenson, but that is all what Chabon is about. If you want to read an intelligent and fun story about "adventure" written by a person who knows that the Shoah actually has happened you are just right here.