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Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  9,083 ratings  ·  1,327 reviews

In the Caucasus Mountains around AD 950, two wandering adventurers and unlikely soul mates live as they please and survive as they can – as blades and thieves for hire and practised bamboozlers. Until, following a bloody coup in the Jewish empire of the Khazars, they get dragooned into the service of a fugitive prince, who burns to reclaim his throne . . .

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Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shovelmonkey1
Jun 29, 2013 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are ardent completists
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: chabs previous output
It is impossible to verbalise how much I wanted to like this book. I became an ardent fan of Chabon's output after The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and subsequently read The Wonder Boys hoping for more of the same. I rapidly realised that Chabon is an author who might thematically link his books in many ways (Judaism, homosexuality and the struggle to achieve an identity are ongoing themes) but he's not one for sticking to the same style, much like grand-master of the ever changing...more
Warwick
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:

Then, as if overhearing and taking pity on the maudlin trend of his thoughts, the wind carried to h...more
Chloe
A fun little picaresque tale of adventure and daring-do. I had no idea what to expect from this book when I picked it up a few weeks back from Powell's after a particularly entertaining reading from the author (not this book, he read from his newest). I do have to say that, after reading three of Chabon's book at this point, that the man definitely has a knack for keeping me guessing. He follows the muse wherever, and I do mean wherever, she may alight.

This may not be a piece of Chabon's work th...more
Seizure Romero
I stole this book from my friend Krystal. Ok, not so much stole as co-opted for a few days. I see her at the coffee shop and she shows me the book she just started reading. She then starts talking to other people. Having left my book at home in a rare moment of bibliotardedness, I start reading hers. She wanders off to run errands nearby and by the time she comes back I'm a third of the way into it. She gathers her things to go and tells me, "Go ahead and finish it. I've got another book."

*sniff...more
Jason Koivu
The marriage of a tale of legend to a story of adventure ends in a literary divorce.

Chabon attempted to invoke a mini-mythology around his simple story about bandits. Unfortunately the technique distanced the reader from the action. Maybe that was his intention. I'm guessing it wasn't, having heard an interview with Chabon in which he admitted this was his first attempt at such a story and he didn't feel he knew what he was doing.
Michael
A rollicking book. If any book deserves the word 'rollicking', this is it. This adventure yarn draws heavily and with much love from Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, and Robert E. Howard, among others. While some readers may wonder 'what's the point?', the reader who does not look for a point to everything will enjoy the ride immensely.
Tim
Nov 30, 2007 Tim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you
Shelves: 2007reads, theroad
Okay, this book was f****** great. And for those of you who are a little slow those asterisks stand for ucking. I would give it 6 stars if I could.
Really though, this book was just excently written. It was fun, had great character development (which I think was the main thing lacking in Chabon's last novella experiment, The Final Solution), and of course a great story with unexpected turns and an excellent ending.
I've seen that some other people have written lesser reviews and I'm not sure why....more
Michael
Reading this directly after Lawrence Block's "Tanner's Twelve Swingers" was quite eye-opening. Unlike Block, who relied on flimsy flash and sex to barrel through his story, Chabon created a complex world for his two Jews with swords - a French Jew (before there was a France) who looks like a scarecrow and a giant Abyssinian black Jew who wields a battle ax called Motherfucker. Sure, it sounds like the stuff of fantasy, but with this little novel, Chabon achieves what only the best fantasy storie...more
vladimir
Aug 30, 2007 vladimir rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sword and sorcery fans; fans pulp adventure novels; swashbuckling in all its forms..
I'm rewriting my review now that the book has finally come out (read it in August as an advance); I knew it would divide fans and perplex even more.

"Gentlemen of the Road" draws from what some might call 'pulp' fiction styles, or in other cases 'adventure fiction'. The language is very much a product of these styles of writing; frankly, prose was more complex back then (not that I'm saying it was better, but it was definitely different)-- longer sentences, oddly constructed, and florid.
If you h...more
Tim Lepczyk
I didn't want to believe the negative reviews when I started this book. I'm a big fan of Michael Chabon and have been impressed with his writing. However, this novel seems to tread the line of wanting to be literary fiction or pulp adventure fiction as a result it fails at both.

The novel is bland and empty. Things happen and there is a fast pace at times, but I didn't care. That's the first for a Chabon novel. I don't care about any characters or what happens to them.

So, leave this one on the sh...more
lia
Michael Chabon has been making it hard for me lately, to love him in the way I'm used to doing. The Yiddish Policeman's Union was unfinishable for me, but I'm going to try again. This is something totally different however, a swashbuckling adventure story full of Turks, caravans, princes in disguise, swordfights and ruffians of many degree. He says in the afterward that he wanted to name the book "Jews With Swords" but didn't get a lot of positive feedback on that. But it made me like the book m...more
Blake Charlton
in his apology...er...afterward to this quick-witted and enjoyable historical adventure story, chabon discloses that the original working title was 'jews with swords.' (personally, i think that would have been a pretty kick ass title.) chabon goes on to explain how it came to be that he, a capital-L-literature-author, ended up writing a story that involved swords. unintentionally it smacks of condescension, of a slight embarrassment of what it was trying to be. that was my only significant compl...more
Elizabeth
May 29, 2008 Elizabeth added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Tim
Shelves: chocolate-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff
Sep 29, 2008 Jeff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like elephants- but only kind of
Part I of the review:
“I want to do nothing. Nothing. Okay, maybe I’ll read a book. Hmm… Gentleman of the Road, by Michael Chabon. Well, I really liked Kavalier and Clay. And I liked Yiddish Policeman’s Union. And this is a short book- maybe I’ll just read this book, and work myself out of this 5 month funk I’ve been in…
… For numberless years a myna had astounded travelers to the caravansary with its ability to spew indecencies in ten languages, and before the fight broke out everyone assumed th...more
Elliot Ratzman
I read Chabon’s satisfying adventure novel in one brisk sitting and with dictionary in hand, looking up a few archaic words each page. The chore of looking up exotic English terms mimicked the ordeals of the characters dealing with one strange situation after another and helps transport you into the terms of the story. The tropes of fantasy adventure are all here, impishly deployed and beautifully rendered. This is perhaps the first historical fantasy about the Khazars, a legendary Turkish-Cauca...more
Katya Zelevinsky
In the afterword for this book, Michael Chabon said that his working, half tongue-in-cheek title for the book was Jews With Swords, and that every time he told this title to his friends, they always laughed, picturing in their heads someone who looked like Woody Allen waving a sword around. This book feels like a response to all those people who laughed at the title, and a warning against the danger of stereotyping a whole people in such a way -- it's a dashing tale of swashbuckling and adventur...more
Mmars
Really 3.5 stars.

There's a lot I liked about this book. Like sneaking the history in. (I'm a sucker for that.) Words. (I'm a sucker for dictionaries, thesauri or thesauruses, atlases.) Writing styles that turn genre readers off. (Check it out - people looking for more Kavalier from Chabon were often disappointed.) The book design, fonts, and illustrations (Yes! Yes! Yes! They made me feel like I was 12 years old again. Thank you!)

I really, really, really want to hear an inner city spat someday...more
Sean
Gentlemen of the Road is a truly enjoyable tale of sword and horse-ery. It follows the fortunes of two “Jews with swords,” Amram and Zelikman, as they become entangled in events larger than their standard fare of swindling and banditry. After a routine scam, they are approached by a stranger and asked to escort the last remaining member of the usurped royal family of the Khazar’s – it goes downhill from there for the protagonists. Killing, sneaking, disguises, brothels, mass killings, assassinat...more
Joaquin
This was just a plain old fun book to read. The writing was excellent - very clear and evocative without being overly pretentious or here-let-me-get-my-dictionary-y. There were several times when I laughed out loud or reread a passage aloud to myself or my wife just to hear the words. In fact, I think this would be a perfect book to read aloud to or with your honey. The story itself, like the title suggests, was a standard 'two dudes go wandering and adventure/hilarity ensues.' This is an excell...more
Stephanie
I should mark this book "partially read and discarded." I was bored with this so-called adventure story. It was a disappointment, considering that I have like most of Chabon's other works, including Summerland. I can see the model of the boy's adventure story that Chabon is trying to adhere to, but the story lacks the drama and the pacing that make such a story exciting to read. Ostensibly those elements are there -- but it didn't grab me. This might be what happens when a writer rushes off a bo...more
James
Jan 02, 2008 James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of chabon or jews with swords
It took a while to get into this book--I feel like I have a pretty strong vocabulary, but I had to go to the dictionary every other page at first. However, it became clear that this was not because I'm not amazingly smart (obviously) but rather because Chabon kept drawing on archaic terms relating to the governments, games, and weapons of 10th century muslims...once google helped me figure out what the hell beks, shatranj, and kagans were, I found a very entertaining little story. If you have re...more
Frank Roberts
Beautiful writing, the sort where you savor the words and the sentences. But also a witty and amusing adventure story, with likable heroes and wry turns of fortune.
Evan
Charming tale of adventure, all the promise of a serialized penny dreadful fulfilled by a first rate writer like Chabon. For such a short piece, I fell in love with the characters.

Marred by a curiously hostile afterward which chastises the reader for thinking that adventure tales are frivolous, though such readers are the least likely to reach the end of the book. It is clear that Chabon has moved on from the "late twentieth century realism genre" as he calls it, and that's a good thing.
jeremy
had he kept his original title, jews with swords, he may have been deserving of a fourth star. chabon's writing is very strong, and he possesses an enthusiastic command of language, but this tale, like the final solution before it, succeeds mostly as homage to a much lamented style. but damn, even his vanity projects, written, it seems, solely for the sake of indulging in the fun of crafting a good tale, far exceed that of most other contemporary authors.
Rebecca Huston
A rollicking tale of fantastical adventure set in about the early middle ages, about two adventurers raising hell on the silk road, along with a mission doomed to failure. Lots of nice illustrations too, and based somewhat in fact.

For the complete review, please go here:
http://www.epinions.com/review/Book_G...
Cheryl
3.5 stars Quick and fun (though sometimes intensely violent) and original. Chabon surely is talented. I like the title he wanted to use, as he explains in his afterward, but I don't want to spoil it for you so I won't say it here.
Hazel
I found this delicious. I kept rereading individual sentences and paragraphs and pages for the sheer joy of the language. The adventure story was entertaining too. All in all, great fun. Thank you, Mr Chabon.
Jeremy Allan
Rich setting, but in the end, all flash, no fire. Chabon is brave for trying an adventure novel, but I'd say that's the best extent of the adventure.
Laurie
The Pulitzer winner does a swashbuckler: Jews with swords!
Lorelei
Jul 05, 2013 Lorelei rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lorelei by: Simcha
Shelves: fiction
"Jews with Swords," - I liked this one very much.
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Michael Chabon (b. 1963) is an acclaimed and bestselling author whose works include the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). Chabon achieved literary fame at age twenty-four with his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), which was a major critical and commercial success. He then published Wonder Boys (1995), another bestseller, which was mad...more
More about Michael Chabon...
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay The Yiddish Policemen's Union Wonder Boys The Mysteries of Pittsburgh Telegraph Avenue

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“[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. As soon as you have crossed your doorstep or the county line, into that place where the structures, laws, and conventions of your upbringing no longer apply, where the support and approval (but also the disapproval and repression) of your family and neighbors are not to be had: then you have entered into adventure, a place of sorrow, marvels, and regret.” 4 likes
“People with Books. What, in 2007, could be more incongruous than that? It makes me want to laugh."

[Afterword]”
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