FREE Express Shipping for Club Members
Not a member? Join Today!
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 43.
- Review Date: 2007-09-03
- Reviewer: Staff
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.)
On the road again
Gentlemen of the Road is the kind of book I would have said no one writes anymoreexcept that Michael Chabon has done just that. Chabon is an enthusiastic genre multitasker who has written everything from mysteries (The Yiddish Policeman's Union) to young adult novels (Summerland), and who has now turned out a rollicking adventure that could have fit comfortably in Thrilling Wonder Stories (which makes it all the more fun that the story was commissioned and serialized by the New York Times). Zelikman and Amran are traveling companions who will be satisfyingly familiar to fans of fantasy writers Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard. The mismatched pair comes across a kidnapped young heir to the Khazar kingdom and, lacking anything urgent and getting a whiff of one of their favorite aromas, money, they decide to help him along his way. The charismatic but annoying heir, Filaq, or Little Elephant, wants to regain his kingdom from a general who has deposed and murdered his family. Not believing that Zelikman and Amran will take him home, Filaq repeatedly attempts to escape and eventually steals Zelikman's most prized possession, his horse Hillel. This guarantees the pair's pursuit and as they follow Filaq, they see the result of a compelling leader let loose in a country full of unrest. Filaq is able to turn his landless position into one of strength and gather an army to fight for his birthright. His return to his homeland is full of twists and turns, setbacks and newfound friends, mistaken (and hidden) identities. In the fast-moving Gentlemen of the Road, Chabon takes readers on an exhilarating journeyhopefully one of many continuing adventures in genre for this talented author.
Gavin J. Grant is the co-editor of the anthology The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet.