I'm willing to bet my paycheck that you haven't read anything remotelylike "The Dictionary...". I know I hadn't. For one it is structured likea dictionary - or, perhaps more accurately, an encyclopaedia. The joy ofthis is that you can open the book at any page and read any entry at all(though I must recommend that you read the introduction before you dothis) and you'll be reading an entertaining 'storylet', which makes uppart of the overall story.
But M Pavic added an additional layer (or rather 3) of complexity to thisstructure: you see, this book is not one dictionary but three - aChristian, a Hebrew and a Muslim version. Each 'book' recounts the taleof the conversion of the Khazars, but approaches the story from theirdifferent viewpoint.
And this adds to the beauty of this book: You can read it 'diagonally' -i.e. read about a person or event (say Princess Ateh) in the Christianversion, then go to the Hebrew and see what they say about her, and thenon to the Muslim. The same story is often slanted subtly in each version- it's very engaging and very clever.
But this book is not just about gimmicks (because, face it, that's allthis dictionary structure really is). Pavic is a very good writer andevery sentence is sculpted, not a word is out of place. And with theKhazars he has (re)constructed a complete world. And it's a world I'mglad I visited.
One final word of warning: This is no holiday book, an easy airportlounge book. It is serious and dense and you have to wrestle its juicefrom it. The author is perhaps half-serious when he warns in theintroduction that readers have died or gone mad from attempting thisbook.
Still reading? Good. If I haven't scared you off, welcome to the worldof the Khazars. Enjoy.