I just left a comment on another CBR raving about Michael Chabon. And it’s true — I love the man’s writing. But this book was just really not very good. I started out liking it, because the language is enchanting. But I realized quickly that it was a lot of fancy words describing something I just could not enjoy.
““[A]dventures befall the unadventurous as readily, if not as frequently, as the bold. Adventures are a logical and reliable result – and have been since at least the time of Odysseus – of the fatal act of leaving one’s home, or trying to return to it again. All adventures happen in that damned and magical space, wherever it may be found or chanced upon, which least resembles one’s home.”
Gentlemen of the Road, set in 950, follows two men (Zelikman and Amram) as they lie and cheat their way across the Caucaus mountains. It starts out pretty charmingly, actually, as they fake a bar brawl in order to collect bets from bystanders. The language is incredible — flowery and dense and full of five dollar words. By the 20th page, I must have googled half a dozen definitions. But once we get settled in, the plot is lacking. Basically, the two end up as bodyguards for last surviving member of a royal family. There’s a lot of backstabbing and double agents, and it sounds like it should be a good time. But their charge, a young man they refer to as the “stripling” is a little shit, and between the language and the constant changes of who’s on whose side, I kept getting lost. It turned from a fun romp into a slog, and I barely finished it.