Sunday, October 9, 2016


This is a "swashbuckling adventure set in the kaganate of Khazaria (now south west Russia ) around AD 950.

The story centers on two world-traveling Jewish bandits who style themselves with the euphemism "gentlemen of the road".  Amram is a hulking Abyssinian who is equally proficient with an axe as a game of shatranj:  he is haunted by the disappearance of his daughter many years ago. His companion is Zelikman, a Frankish physician who uses an over sized bloodletting lancet as a rapier.  Zeliikman has a morbid personality due to the trauma of watching his family slaughtered in an anti Jewish pogrom.  ( Wiki)

The two become involved in trying to restore a " displaced prince " to his throne.

I can see what Chabon is trying to do here, write an adventure like Ivanhoe but it didn't capture my imagination.  It was originally published in episodes and perhaps suffers from a lack of continuity because of this.

There are some great action sequences which are enjoyable and these are "swashbuckling" but in the end I found this hard work, nothing like Chabon's Sherlock Holmes story which I enjoyed recently.

The author has a a good body of work so I'd recommend everything prior to this.

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