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Gentlemen of the Road, By Michael Chabon

Having orginally given this book the working title "Jews with Swords", Michael Chabon explains in an amusing Afterword why he wanted to write a novel which finally dispelled the image of the warrior Jew as "an unprepossessing little guy, with spectacles and a beard, brandishing a sabre". Set in the Caucasus mountains around 950AD, this swashbuckling fable tells the story of two adventurers: Amran, a giant Ethiopian, and Zelikman, a Jewish physician from Regensburg, who set themselves up as blades for hire. Their resulting adventures are dizzying, and Chabon's arcane language carefully calibrated – though even the most indulgent of readers might eventually tire of the verbal fisticuffs and self-concious display. The illustrations by Gary Gianni add to the book's old-world charm.

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