The novel originally appeared in fifteen installments in The New York Times Magazine from January 28 to May 6, 2007.
Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller, The Amazing
Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, sprang from an early passion for the
derring-do and larger-than-life heroes of classic comic books. Now, once
more mining the rich past, Chabon summons the rollicking spirit of
legendary adventures – from The Arabian Nights to Alexandre Dumas to Fritz
Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories – in a wonderful new novel
brimming with breathless action, raucous humor, cliff-hanging suspense,
and a cast of colorful characters worthy of Scheherazade’s most
They’re an odd pair, to be sure: pale, rail-thin, black-clad Zelikman, a moody, itinerant physician fond of jaunty headgear, and ex-soldier Amram, a gray-haired giant of a man as quick with a razor-tongued witticism as he is with a sharpened battle-ax. Brothers under the skin, comrades in arms, they make their rootless way through the Caucasus Mountains, circa A.D. 950, living as they please and surviving however they can – as blades and thieves for hire and as practiced bamboozlers, cheerfully separating the gullible from their money. No strangers to tight scrapes and close shaves, they’ve left many a fist shaking in their dust, tasted their share of enemy steel, and made good any number of hasty exits under hostile circumstances.
None of which has necessarily prepared them to be dragooned into service as escorts and defenders to a prince of the Khazar Empire. Usurped by his brutal uncle, the callow and decidedly ill-tempered young royal burns to reclaim his rightful throne. But doing so will demand wicked cunning, outrageous daring, and foolhardy bravado... not to mention an army. Zelikman and Amram can at least supply the former. But are these gentlemen of the road prepared to become generals in a full-scale revolution? The only certainty is that getting there – along a path paved with warriors and whores, evil emperors and extraordinary elephants, secrets, swordplay, and such stuff as the grandest adventures are made of – will be much more than half the fun.
Michael Chabon (born 1963) is an American author. His critically acclaimed novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, the novelist Ayelet Waldman, and their children.
Photo: Charlie Reiman. Source: Wikimedia Commons.