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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  20,385 ratings  ·  1,036 reviews
It is April 1204, and Constantinople, the splendid capital of the Byzantine Empire, is being sacked and burned by the knights of the Fourth Crusade. Amid the carnage and confusion, one Baudolino saves a historian and high court official from certain death at the hands of the crusading warriors and proceeds to tell his own fantastical story.

Born a simple peasant in northern
Paperback, First Harvest edition 2003, 527 pages
Published October 6th 2003 by Harcourt, Inc. (first published November 1st 2000)
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Luca Piccardi Baudolino is a very different book both from the Name of the Rose and Faucault's Pendulum, Baudolino is an historical novel in the form of a diary, Fa…moreBaudolino is a very different book both from the Name of the Rose and Faucault's Pendulum, Baudolino is an historical novel in the form of a diary, Faulcoult's Pendulum is set in italy's 1970's era, and is quite intense to read, as it refers to many misticisms and folklore and a twisted (or non canonic) view of religion. of the 3 books you mentioned Bausolino is the easiest to approach. I think you will enjoy it (I enjoyed the 3 but with faucaul't pendulum I had to have an encyclopedia by my side to check half of the things he was describing, so it was more of a research then the sheer enjoyment of a novel) =)(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
James (JD) Dittes Great question. Historical fiction would be my first choice. Mystery, yes, but there was also an element of fantasy in the trip to the Kingdom of Pres…moreGreat question. Historical fiction would be my first choice. Mystery, yes, but there was also an element of fantasy in the trip to the Kingdom of Prester John. Moreover there are long, philosophical monologues with characters spread throughout the book.

It's a mixed bag...and a thoroughly enjoyable read.(less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
Baudolino, Umberto Eco

Baudolino is a 2000 novel by Umberto Eco about the adventures of a man named Baudolino in the known and mythical Christian world of the 12th century.

In the year of 1204, Baudolino of Alessandria enters Constantinople, unaware of the Fourth Crusade that has thrown the city into chaos.

In the confusion, he meets Niketas Choniates and saves his life. Niketas is amazed by his language genius, speaking many languages he has never heard, and on the question: if he is not part of
This is a novel that I love to return to.

Baudolino, a self declared liar tells the story of his life to a Byzantine court official and historian who he has rescued from the sack of Constantinople during the fourth crusade (1204 AD).

Baudolino's story takes in the life and career of his imperial majesty the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, study at the university of Paris, the third crusade up to the death of the emperor, the acquisition of the mummified bodies of the three kings for Cologne Cathedra
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"in a great history little truths can be altered so that the greater truth emerges."

What would an Umberto Eco novel be without a pile of theological debate, historical references bordering on the obscure, and convoluted story-telling that makes your head spin? What would an Eco novel be without causing you to ask yourself "what the heck was that?" after you finish reading it? Or heaps of tongue-in-cheek phrases that make you wonder if he's being serious or mocking?

...the answer is, not much of
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-novels
Eco's sophisticated mingling of historical facts with medieval philosophy and theology as well as with a fictional hero, who is in fact an anti-hero, makes you really "dive" into the Middle Ages and this fascinating book. I absolutely adored it and was drawn to it from page one until I was forced to close it (you know, to sleep or study or when I actually finished it).

The first thing we learn about Baudolino, the main character of this book, is that he is a liar. He warns us that we must not bel
Jim Fonseca
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: italian-authors
Umberto Eco, who previously gave us The Name of the Rose and Foucault’s Pendulum, gives us a fantasy historical novel about the fictional right-hand man to Frederick the First (1122-1190), also known as Barbarossa, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Our hero, Baudolino, is a kind of Henry Kissinger sent off by the emperor to make peace, conduct negotiations and threaten war. Baudolino is an inveterate liar and stretcher of the truth, so when he undertakes a multi-year mission to find the mythical ...more
Dec 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italian, 2000s
Baudolino is a difficult book to summarise, because the more you read, the more you realise that the plot is merely incidental and the book is really about something else entirely. In fact, if you were to read this book for the plot you would be very confused very quickly. The story is a first person account by the eponymous Baudolino of his life, as told to Niketas whom he rescues from the sack of Constantinople. It chronicles his adventures from 1155 when he was adopted in all but name by Empe ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Video review

Up there with Against the Day as an ubridled fantasy of immense scope with a clear commitment to tracing the nightmarish coils of history.
Hansen Wendlandt
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Umberto Eco’s novels are the Harvard doctorate to Dan Brown’s middle school nonsense. Whereas Brown fascinates the masses with half-truth historical art and religion, Eco is a stunning scholar, simply overwhelming the sophisticated reader, pleasurably, with ancient languages (“Ave, evcharisto, salam” (376)) and (sometimes arcane) belief systems. His characters may not be as deep or personable as less ambitious novels (“I decided that if this was my fate, it was useless for me to try to become li ...more
Aside from a few parts that I got a little bored with, this novel was, by and large, a tour de force of humorous historical storytelling proportions. I was delighted and totally amused by Baudolino, the inveterate trickster, storyteller, and liar.

Putting aside actual history for a moment and the MC's way of explaining that he is, as always, a liar, but he only lies for good, the novel grows epic from the first passages. We start with the fall of Constantinople, getting in tight with Barbarossa (
Kara Babcock
So many stories are themselves about stories and storytelling. There is something about this basic act of creation and communication that captivates the human mind and spirit. Storytelling necessarily blurs the line between truth and falsehood; there is no way to relate any story, even history, with perfect truth, for we are all fallible and subjective beings. And history—that patchwork quilt of stories that make the grandest narrative of them all—is probably more lies than truth. We are blessed ...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Now, one of our brothers, Eldad of the tribe of Dan, more than a hundred years ago, arrived at Qayrawan, in Africa, where a community of the Chosen People exists, saying that he came from the kingdom of the ten lost tribes, a land blessed by heaven, where life is peaceful, never troubled by any crime, where truly the streams flow with milk and honey. This land has remained separated from every other country because it is defended by the river Sambatyon, which is as wide as the shot of the might ...more
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Umberto Eco fans
There were three reasons why I read this book. One, Eco, I'd heard so much talk about his work (fiction and non-). Two, the setting, the Middle Ages, a historical period that is a bit of a gap for me. Three, an unreliable narrator, Usual Suspects is one of my favorite movies for this reason. Fictional stories are all lies, but in that world, you expect truth, but when you find out the fiction you are experiencing is also a fiction, well that is just delicious.

I enjoyed Baudolino's world where l
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great imaginative novel, its only 'weakness' being its sprawling structure. Contained within the novel are mythical creatures, legends, a genuine locked-room murder mystery, and lots of Gnostic memes. All of this told through the self-admitted lying narrator, perhaps one of the better 'unreliable narrators' I've ever read.

The meditations on the nature of myth and legend and the innate need for stories of power were great. Perhaps my favorite moment was two mythical creatures debating the Holy T
Judith Arvesu
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Baudolino once again shows Eco’s amazing ability to turn what may be a boring pseudo-historical narrative into something hilarious, occasionally cheeky, and always insightful.

If Baudolino is to be believed, he was single-handedly responsible for the canonization of Charlemagne, was responsible for the propagation of the myth of Prester John, and indirectly fueled Frederick’s ill-fated Third Crusade. The story that Umberto Eco created fits so perfectly behind history as we know it that it’s somet
I’m abandoning this book at page 124 as the thought of another 400 pages doesn’t thrill me. If I’m not reading a book because I’m reluctant to pick it up, it’s time to stop.

On the positive side, the historical background is really interesting. Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, also known as Barbarossa (Red Beard), is campaigning in Italy where he was crowned king in 1155. He takes Baudolino under his wing as a teenager and educates him, sending him to Paris to study for several years. We meet Bau
Megan Baxter
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
In that curiously relaxing time between Christmas and New Year's, when there's not much to do except sit around and read (if you're lucky enough to work somewhere that shuts down between the two), I picked up Baudolino. It was one of the pile of books I plowed my way through while visiting my in-laws. I hadn't had that much concentrated reading time in quite a while. Gosh, it was nice!

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can
Jul 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
"Sometimes, when what we've sought is almost within our grasp, we make our faith a lie so that we don't have to give up our quest by achieving its goal."

When I finished Thomas Pynchon's V. last month, the sentence above was my entire review of it because I felt that was the most important thing I took away from that reading of the book. As I read V. I sensed it possessed a similarity of "aura" with Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. Toward the end of Baudolino I received V.'s message again from
Nancy Oakes
excellent story by probably my favorite author in the world, Umberto Eco. I've seen this book really panned because it didn't "measure up to" Name of the Rose, but don't let that deter you. The two books are apples and oranges and shouldn't be compared together.

As the story opens, Constantinople is being sacked in 1204 and the hero of this novel, Baudolino, is telling his dear friend Niketas Choniates, who, as it turns out, is the most famous chronicler of these events. As Baudolino begins his t
Riku Sayuj
Aug 30, 2011 marked it as on-a-break  ·  review of another edition
resuming after a long break...
Cathal Kenneally
Excellent read. It's like In The Name Of The Roses meets The Holy Grail. Funny in places but not his best book. That is not to say he's not q good writer of historical fiction. We meet some strange characters in this book but as in a lot of his books there are strange characters and even stranger tales ...more
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm a total sucker for medieval stories, which made up for the fact that I know sweet eff-all about the various finer points of Christian theology that so much of the book revolves around. I suspect the novel might be rather boring if you're into neither knights nor Jesus.

Predictably, the language is complex and interesting (a testament to the translator as well), and carries the novel through some of the slow passages. There's also a convenient point at which the story breaks pretty cleanly fro
Aug 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Ooooo Mr Eco, always trying to be smart and complex; always showing off your encyclopedian knowledge of history and philisophy. I liked you well enough in 'The Name of the Rose', but I couldn't stand you in 'Baudolino'.

Never has an author made me feel so stupid, unknowledgeable and insignificant. As if someone who doesn't know everything you know, isn't worthy of walking the planet and reading your books. As if you know everything you wrote about by heart! You probably had to look it up too, so
Philippe Malzieu
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Baudolino is a liar. His life is a picaresque and often amusing novel where History mixes with history. What's more funny for me, it is the relics traffic. At the middle-âge, it was a very profitable buisness. There is a joke : it was said that, with all authentics pieces of the Jesus's cross carefully collected in the churches, we could build an arch for Noé.
Style is beautiful, it is magnificiently written. It is felt that Eco take pleasure to write it, Eco let him go. Then, truth or lie? No i
Sep 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was so disappointed in this book and I call it bor-delino.
I read Baudolino back in 2019, so it's high time for a review. Original language is italian, and I read the excellent swedish translation by Barbro Andersson. I love Umberto Eco and this is my favorite of his novels. Not only that, but it's also my favorite novel of all time!

The story takes place in the 12th century, where the peasant boy Baudolino gets adopted by Holy Roman Emperor Barbarossa and is sent to study in Paris. There he meets new friends and learns about the glorious kingdom of Pres
Paul Ataua
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I loved ‘The Name of the Rose’ and enjoyed ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ when I read them back in the eighties, and this was my return to Umberto Eco after such a long time. Eco is clever and maybe too clever for me, and I really struggled to get through this. Although I thought the ending was good, much that went before it was often not relevant to the story and sometimes quite boring. Not recommended unless you are a real Eco fan.
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved it.
Umberto Eco is Dan Brown for serious readers. He's an inimitable author, who spins such a marvelous tale of bravery, sacrifice, piety and loyalty in the face of insurmountable adversity. Baudolino is a provocative & beguiling tale of history, myth & invention set in middle-age Europe.

Baudolino, a peasant boy impresses Emperor Frederick Barbosa with his wit & lively imagination. The emperor adopts him as his own son and sends him to university in Paris, where he meets a band of lively characters,
Ilija Ilić
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
My first book by Umberto, and i love it! What else can i say?? Love!
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
In "The Name of the Rose", Umberto Eco managed the extraordinary feet of balancing his philosophical preoccupations against the needs of story-telling. "Baudolino" is even more ambitious--taking on the nature of story-telling itself--but achieves less. The forum for Eco's musings is an invented character, Baudolino, who travels Zelig-like between the real events around the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th: a couple of Crusades, the fall of Constantinople, the wars of Frederick Barbaross ...more
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Umberto Eco was an Italian writer of fiction, essays, academic texts, and children's books. A professor of semiotics at the University of Bologna, Eco’s brilliant fiction is known for its playful use of language and symbols, its astonishing array of allusions and references, and clever use of puzzles and narrative inventions. His perceptive essays on modern culture are filled with a delightful sen ...more

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“There, Master Niketas,’ Baudolino said, ‘when I was not prey to the temptations of this world, I devoted my nights to imagining other worlds. A bit with the help of wine, and a bit with that of the green honey. There is nothing better than imagining other worlds,’ he said, ‘to forget the painful one we live in. At least so I thought then. I hadn’t yet realized that, imagining other worlds, you end up changing this one.” 30 likes
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