The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is in my top three favorite books and possibly occupies the top slot, but it took me a full hundred pages to get into it; I spent months trying to slog through the beginning of it and the last three quarters only took me days. For that reason I try to give Michael Chabon books more patience than I would others, but man did reading this feel like a chore.
I may have referenced this in another review, but that XKCD comic had it right: there’s an inverse relationship between the number of made up words and the quality of a book. In this case it’s antiquarian rather than fantasy, but the principle holds. This was two hundred pages that I had to keep going back through because I couldn’t follow what was happening through florid language and unfamiliar terms.
It was exceptionally disappointing because there’s an interesting story to be told here something like Indiana Jones meets Lethal Weapon… but in 900 CE. And Chabon can write beautifully, no doubt. But if you’re writing an adventure, it needs to be easy enough to follow that you can stay swept up in the action, and the action I was most absorbed in here was flipping back pages to figure out who we were following and what the hell just happened.