Gentlemen of the Road

Gentlemen of the Road

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.
A rollicking saga set a thousand years ago along the ancient Silk Road, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Gentlemen of the Road is set in the Kingdom of Arran, in the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, A.D. 950. It tells the tale of two wandering adventurers and unlikely soul mates, variously plying their trades as swords for hire, horse thieves, and flimflam artists–until fortune entangles them in the myriad schemes and battles following a bloody coup in the medieval Jewish empire of the Khazars. Hired as escorts for a fugitive prince, they quickly find themselves half-willing generals in a mad rebellion, struggling to restore the prince’s family to the throne. As their increasingly outrageous exploits unfold, they encounter a wondrous elephant, wily Rhandanite tradesman, whores, thieves, soldiers, an emperor, and the truth about their young royal charge, whose slender frame conceals a startling secret and a warrior’s heart.

From the Hardcover edition.

Publisher: New York : Del Rey/Ballantine Books, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385665445
Characteristics: xvi, 204 p. : ill ; 22 cm


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JCLJoshN Jun 05, 2015

I love the magical way Michael Chabon uses words and I love this fun, swaggering take on pulp historical adventure that reads rather like Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, if those classic characters were Jews. (If you listen to the audiobook, you get the added bonus of actor Andre Braugher, who has one of the greatest voices ever, reading the book.)

ColemanRidge Jun 04, 2012

A very, very clever book. There has been a shortage of Jewish action heroes. Chabon places his on the fringes of a Muslim empire, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims mix freely, if not always peacefully, and he makes them mountebanks and con men, living by their wits. Wandering Jews. Of course Wandering Jews. As soon as you read about them, you know they were there all along, unnoticed, as befits their trade.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would happily work with these guys, as would Alyx Picklock. I know no higher praise.

The funny thing is, as soon as you read this story, you realize that all Peter Beagle's characters are Jewish too.

Apr 28, 2012

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon is a fun adventure story of two Jewish mercenaries (scoundrels/thieves) as they come into contact with a young prince of the Khazar Empire and help him in his quest to retake the throne and oust the usurper from it.

Involving Vikings, elephants, warriors and whores this is a rollicking, medieval tale that left me wanting more. I wanted to stay with these characters, Amram and Zelikman, as they continued on down the road and share with them in any new adventures.

Michael Chabon wrote this story in a style that reminded me of many of the adventure stories I read when young, by the likes of R.M. Ballantyne or Robert Louis Stevenson. Rather flowery, very descriptive, and requiring a dictionary, but the story moves quickly and I was soon caught up in the plot. For such a short book, less than 200 pages, Chabon packs in a lot of information, he also expects his readers to suspend our disbelief and accept a number of bizarre coincidences.

I never quite sank fully into the story, but still I recommend this book for it’s swashbuckling, captivating, page-turning story.

Jan 11, 2011

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of adventure, revenge seeking, raiding, trickery, friendship, and yes even a small dose of romance. The characters are well developed and the story draws one in completely in the space of the first chapter, "On Discord Arising from the Excessive Love of a Hat," the accompanying illustrations by Hal Foster, of Prince Valiant fame, are an added bonus to this wonderful read.

Nov 13, 2010

This was an excellent book. On one hand it is in large type, short, has illustrations, and is an easy read. On the other, this book was chock full of words I needed a dictionary for!

It has an interesting setting for the genre. It is a teal of adventure as it says, bordering on a fantasy novel. However, it is set roughly in the middle ages, but not in the West, in the East. Most of the main characters are Jews and Muslims.

The book is also paced differently from a typical fantasy story, and it worked really well. Instead of telling every detail along this journey, the author sometimes omits days and starts the story up again in the midst of an action sequence.

All in all the characters were wonderful, my favorite being Amram, the giant African with the mother-defiler battle ax. The writing is also excellent and the story very well paced.

Jun 23, 2009

Zelikman is a scarecrow thin, rapier-wielding doctor from the Frankish countries. Amram is a giant African ex-soldier with a very large battle ax. Together they are gentlemen of the road?swords-for-hire making their way through the Caucasus Mountains in the year 950 A.D. Their code of honor, such as it is, extends only to each other and their loyal steeds. But when they end up burdened with Prince Filaq of the Khazar Empire, they also find themselves unaccountably moved to help the young royal avenge himself upon his usurping uncle and reclaim his rightful throne. It won?t be an easy journey?Zelikman is moody, Amram is sarcastic, and privileged Filaq is just plain bad-tempered?but it will be a swashbuckling adventure filled with sword fights, surprising secrets, and even herds of exotic elephants. Michael Chabon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has delved into every genre from mystery to fantasy. When he tries his hand at high adventure here with Gentlemen of the Road, he is certain to be a rousing success. The action, which takes place over one thousand years ago, is deftly and richly described. The characters are real and funny, and the adventure always rings true. Illustrations by Gary Gianni heighten the action and give a real feel that the reader is holding what is sure to be a terrifically fun story.


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LudditeLord Feb 11, 2011

Set more than 1000 years ago, in Khazaria, the fabled kingdom of wild, red-haired Jews,this tale of “Jews with Swords” involves Filaq, young heir to the recently deposed king of the Khazars. He is traveling under duress to his grandfather’s house with his guardian when they come across the heroes of the book. Zelikman is a morose, Frankish physician, and, Amram, his gigantic, Abysinian friend. When the guardian is murdered by the pursuers, these two swindlers, horse thieves, bodyguards for hire, endeavor to complete the task and collect the reward for Filaq’s safe delivery Their attempts to restore Filaq to the throne make for a terrifically entertaining, modern pulp adventure replete with marauding armies, drunken Vikings, beautiful prostitutes, and rampaging elephants.
A significant change from Chabon's weightier novels, this dazzling trifle is simply terrific fun.

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