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Literature / Gentlemen of the Road

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Gentlemen of the Road is an adventure novel by Michael Chabon. It was first published in 2007.


This novel contains examples of:

  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Chabon set out to turn this trope on its head — the novel prominently features an Abyssinian Jew and the Khazars, a kingdom of Turkic Jews. It does, however, feature an Ashkenazi Jew who is very far from home.
  • Black Vikings: The protagonists are a black Abyssinian and a very white Eastern Frank, both Jewish, who travel the world as bandits and mercenaries and end up in the Caucasus. The Khazars, a nation of Turkic Jews, also features heavily in the plot. It was Chabon's intention to explore the lesser-known branches of Jewish lineage.
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  • Homage: Among other things, the novel is a homage to Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser tales.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: This is the main plot; the two main characters (who are essentially mercenaries) have been asked to escort the son of a deposed and murdered king to relatives in another nation where he'll be safe, but all he wants to do is run back to the capitol to kill the usurper.
  • Named Weapons: One of the main characters has a Viking ax "whose name, cut in runes along its ashwood haft, translated roughly as 'Defiler of Your Mother'."
  • Reconstruction: Reconstructs Two-Fisted Tales and pulp adventure stories.
  • Purple Prose: A particularly thick example, as a deliberate part of the Genre Throwback aspect.
  • Translation Convention: Many of the characters are polyglots, which is implied to be par for the course of residents in such a crossroads of cultures. The main characters run through a wide range of languages, which are all rendered as English.
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