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Highly Recommended Voyage of Discovery,
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This review is from: Balthasar's Odyssey (Paperback)
This is an excellent novel, it's a travelogue, a philosophical work, a tale of relationships and religion - and that's a lot to ask of any book. The hero is a somewhat bumbling antique dealer who becomes obsessed with a book which is alleged to contain a secret magical word, the 100th name for Allah/God. The book of our hero's imagination literally falls into his lap but then he looses it before reading a word and in his growing obsession he sets out on a journey to search for it across the near east and Europe of the 17th century. Along the way, he falls in love, meets lots of interesting people, visits well known spots, gets caught up in the Great Fire of London, has strange encounters and muses a lot. The novel takes the form of a journal of his search, and, the fact that he is somewhat foolish and somewhat old and somewhat ugly means that he is all the more believable as a character. The tale is told in simple language and his observations on the encounters along the way are those of an innocent, often only later seeing meaning or logic in events. The book of the 100th word is elusive, as is the real reason for his search.
It's an engaging tale, full of ideas but also a story which holds the attention for the fascinating view of 17th century travel and all the action along the way - I couldn't put it down. It's full of imagination and observation and the good and bad choices he makes are thoughtful and resonate, as we are all trying to bumble along the best way we can through life. A highly recommended read.