Literature / The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio

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.

The Golden Tropes of Carlo Chuchio:

  • Arms Dealer: the slaver who captured Shira also sells arms to warlords along the way.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Low Fantasy: And very well done. It is mysterious and doesn't lose its wonder by being too blatant.