Gentlemen of the Road Review

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael ChabonInstead of writing a book about a writer of adventure stories, Michael Chabon has eliminated one lens and written the adventure story himself. One might not expect the author who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay to offer adventure apologetics, but an afterword included in Gentlemen of the Road (Random House, $21.95) does just that. As a fellow author who has described his own book as “just a little adventure story,” I must acknowledge my sympathies as a reviewer. While Chabon’s latest work is a genre departure from his previous award-winning oeuvre, it is no different in quality.

There is no difference in Chabon’s trademark unusual syntax, either; I had to re-read the first chapter in order to adjust to it. Once I had his adventurous syntax mapped out I was off on a fast-paced, nuanced, and entertaining tale, which I read in its entirety twice in a single week! Gentlemen of the Road relates just one of the many adventures shared by Amram, an axe-wielding Abyssinian, and Zelikman, a Frankish physician who treats as many wounds as he inflicts. As is wont to happen to gentlemen of the road, a chance encounter leaves in their charge Filaq, the sole survivor of a coup in Khazaria. The brash young heir wants to return home to seek vengeance, but Amram and Zelikman want only to deliver Filaq to an uncle’s keep and be on their way. Filaq’s obstinance, a Khazar death squad, and an invading Rus force intervene, altering their course and setting up multiple daring rescues and an armed confrontation with Buljan, the usurper who deprived Filaq of family, title, and more.

Finely illustrated by Gary Gianni and superbly written (including the most artistic, period-authentic anatomical description of my reading experience), Gentlemen of the Road is a can’t-miss adventure. It may not garner the accolades or the sales figures of Chabon’s previous two books, but it is more than mere artistic self-indulgence and certainly needs no apology.

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One Response to “Gentlemen of the Road Review”

  1. […] elements reminiscent not only of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, as promised, but of Gentlemen of the Road as well. Phoebe Gaston, a book rep and friend who knows I have a weak spot for Chabon and writing […]

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