Gentlemen of the Road, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


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 soulmates, variously plying their trades as swords for hire, horse thieves and con artists - until fortune entangles them in the myriad schemes and battles that follow 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 Rhadanite tradesmen, whores, thieves, soldiers, an emperor, and discover the truth about their young royal charge. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this is a novel brimming with raucous humour and cliff-hanging suspense, combining the spirit of The Arabian Nights with the action of The Three Musketeers.


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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

I thought this was great fun. The writing has been criticised as rather over-wrought – well, it is certainly a little baroque but Chabon's tongue is firmly in his cheek, and there is a wittiness to his descriptions which makes me very willing to go along for the ride. Besides, the sentences may be elaborate, but they are always interesting, utterly free from cliché, and often strange and beautiful:<i>Then, as if overhearing and taking pity on the maudlin trend of his thoughts, the wind carried to his nostrils from the fires of the troops camped in the valley the desert tang of a camel-dung fire, and with it the plangent cry of a soldier-muezzin calling his saddle-weary brothers to a belated Jumuah.</i>The plot, for its part, is a full-on no-excuses Adventure! tale, with plenty of derring-do and Byzantine soldiers and isolated kingdoms and swordplay. It's like H. Rider Haggard meets. . .well, meets Michael Chabon.Unfortunately, the book is rather spoiled by an unnecessary and bizarrely defensive author's afterword, in which Chabon seems to feel the need to apologise to his readership for not having produced another literary novel about modern-day Jewishness. Despite this current novel, Chabon apparently wants to point out, he is still to be regarded as a "serious, literary" author. I can't help feeling that if you find it necessary to attach a lengthy apologia to a book then you shouldn't bother writing the stupid thing in the first place. It is almost unbelievably patronising and irritating.But try to ignore that, and concentrate on the story itself, which really is unashamedly enjoyable.

Review by

At whom was this book aimed? And why did the author bother? I quite enjoyed the rolling story-telling style, the witty sentences, and some of the amusing situations, but it never quite got me hooked. Finishing it became a chore rather than a pleasure. Perhaps it was because it was historical but not quite accurately placed in reality or fiction; perhaps because some of the attempts at bathos sounded false to my British ear; perhaps because the story was just a bit too predictable. I was not sure at the end, but then I read the epilogue — a sort of mini making-of featurette in which the author attempted to explain why he had written it. Then I knew why I disliked it: because it was a pretentious exercise in style that never quite delivered anything of substance. Give me Patrick O'Brian or George MacDonald Fraser any day instead!

Review by

As he explains in the afterword, this novel is a break from Chabon's usual 'late-century naturalism'. It does, however, still possess his usual post-modern wit, the knowing glance of the author. That the setting is the middle-east of the aincent world rather than the modern day cities of America does not in any way diminish the novel. In fact, it adds a certain Quixotic charm to the work. That said, it does not posses the epic reach of Kaviler and Clay and, whilst it is an entertaining yarn, it does feel a little light in comparisson.

Review by

short and sweet historical adventure romp.Saw this at the library and couldn't is a story of two odd couple rogues who find themselves with a deposed prince and a kingdom to swindle.. This was real page turner, evocative of the era with a rich set of contrasting characters and fast moving plot. It also has the bonus of some wonderful old fashioned line drawings. The problem was it was just too short and I felt a bit unsatisfied.. (which is why it gets 3.5 stars!) I hear it was originally serialised in a newspaper so that explains it but hmmm don't buy it just borrow it!