The working title of this was “Jews with Swords.” For some of you, ‘nuff said. For the rest, it’s an engaging, funny, old-fashioned picaresque adventure in which all the important characters are Jews.

Sardonic African Jew Amran and melancholy Frankish Jew Zelikman are pulled from their usual routine of bodyguarding, conning, doctoring, brawling, and walking the earth when they get sucked into a headstrong prince’s scheme to regain his lost kingdom.

Like The Princess Bride, it contains fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, and true love - between Amran and Zelikman, of a sort – oh, who am kidding, despite the canonical heterosexuality of both parties I could not help reading their relationship as extremely slashy. Regrettably, there are few women, though the only major female character is extremely cool. (This is where I should probably mention that the story includes a rape. It’s off-page and handled sensitively, but YMMV.) Also, there are elephants.

Easily as a sailor handling a blasphemy, the African reached behind him for the Viking ax (whose name, cut in runes along its ashwood haft, translated roughly as “Defiler of Your Mother”), but three little words preserved the cordial relations between the head and neck of the intruder, a wiry old party armed with a short sword, Persian by the look of him, with a knob of scar tissue where his right eye had been and a curious sneer. Many times Zelikman, known as the Frank, had seen the African swing Mother-Defiler in order to silence, with a dull smack of meat and bone, some foolish shrewd fellow who had guessed the true nature of the duels that ill fortune sometimes obliged the partners to stage. Perhaps the span of a breath remained to the intruder for the enjoyment of his perspicacity, a breath that the Persian wisely employed to say, “Keep your money.”

I adored this and would have kept on reading indefinitely had Chabon chosen to continue. I am only sorry that it did not spark a flood of imitative “Jews with Swords” novels – a genre of which I am certain I would never tire.

Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure

Please feel free to recommend any other books about Jews with swords, should any others exist.

Spoiler-cut. Read more... )


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags