This is a book by Lloyd Alexander
, author of the Chronicles of Prydain
. Carlo, a good-for-nothing apprentice to his uncle, a merchant in an obviously medieval Italy-like city-state, finds a map in a mysterious book found in the city's Bazaar of the Bizarre
. Deciding he does not want to be a merchant, he goes off in search of treasure. On the way he meets Shira, an innkeeper's daughter who is a runaway slave; Baksheesh, a lazy beggar turned caravaner, and Saloman, a mysterious old man who is Walking the Earth
. The book follows their adventures along their journey in a mysterious land that is like the medieval Silk Road. Few things big happen along the journey; it is mostly a simple adventure tale. But it is done with imagination and love, and gives an insight into what Medieval travellers must have felt like.
- All That Glitters
- Arabian Nights Days
- Arms Dealer: the slaver who captured Shira also sells arms to warlords along the way.
- Bazaar of the Bizarre
- Cool Horse: Shira escaped from the slaver by stealing a Cool Horse.
- Cowardly Sidekick: Baksheesh
- Crossing the Desert
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Just enough to make it appropriate to the setting.
- Don't Split Us Up: Subverted, as Shira is split up from her brother. She later meets him again.
- Duel to the Death: Carlo manages to survive one of these by a legalistic interpretation of nomadic custom.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar : It is made clear without directly saying that Shira was intended as a Sex Slave. Attempts are made, for instance, to buy Shira from her parents(before seizing her when they refuse), much like modern human traffickers.
- Good Parents: Shira's parents.
- Happily Married: Shira's parents. The father was a merchant who saw Shira's mother, fell into Love at First Sight and stayed with her to become an innkeeper instead of continuing his voyage.
- Here There Be Dragons: Most of the world. This is a representation of the Middle Ages after all.
- Honor Before Reason: Subverted but not very well. The nomads manage to be convinced to throw away centuries old customs just a wee bit to easily.
- Intrepid Merchant: They meet a few of these.
- Istanbul Not Constantinople: Several times they use old names for places. As these often roughly correspond to what they would have been in the Real Life Silk Road, it makes sense. For instance there is a mysterious country called Cathai far at the end. Cathay of course, once meant China.
- I Will Find You: Inverted. It is Shira that finds her brother rather then her brother going on a quest to find her.
- Land of One City: several
- Lovable Coward: Baksheesh
- Low Fantasy: And very well done. It is mysterious and doesn't lose its wonder by being too blatant.
- Made a Slave: Shira
- Merchant City: several
- Mama Bear, Papa Wolf, Big Brother Instinct: All three are played straight at once, but tragically. Shira's mother and father are killed defending her when the slavers arrive. Her little brother tries but is to little to be worth the bother of killing and meets his sister again later.
- Noble Savage: The Mongol-like nomads they meet.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Baksheesh
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Bashir, the nomad's chief
- Outlaws: One of the hazards of the journey
- The Obi-Wan: Saloman
- The Quest
- Quicksand Sucks: Averted. Saloman tells Baksheesh that it is impossible for a sensible person to be killed by it.
- Revenge: One of Shira's goals is to find the Slaver who captured her.
- Sacred Hospitality: The nomads give this to them.
- Sergeant Rock: The hardbitten Rais or Captain of a caravan with which they hitch a ride.
- Shout-Out: There are a remarkable number of Shout Outs to the history and legends of the Real Life Silk Road.
- The Storyteller: There is a mysterious storyteller that they meet several times. He seems to have mystical powers.
- There's No Place Like Home : One of Shira's goals.
- Tomboy: Shira . Lloyd Alexander always has to have a Hot-Blooded Tomboy.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore: The book containing the map.
- True Companions: One of the main themes.
- Tsundere : Shira.
- Vigilante Execution: Three captured outlaws are Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by the orders of the caravan captain after an attempted attack, according to the custom of the country.
- Ye Goode Olde Days: Subverted. The setting is not presented as The Dung Ages, mainly because it is intended to be Lighter and Softer in style; at least enough to be read by children. However, the cruelty of their world is made clear, even if it is often more implied then shown explicitly.
- Walking the Earth
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Shira