A colorful 1998 novel, winner of France's Prix Fémina for First Fiction, relates the adventures of a crafty Armenian merchant and a zealous manuscript illuminator who travel overland (on the fabled Silk Road) to the Far East, to engage in trade and
convert to Christianity barbarian Mongol emperor Kublai (grandson to Genghis Khan). Exotic, sensuously detailed, picaresque, and often disturbingly graphic, this is the kind of novel we don't see very often these days (think of it as in part a wry Gallic variant version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
). A rich, exciting tale—and Donougher's superb translation is a marvel of precisely phrased eloquence.
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