JEWS WITH SWORDS
That was the original title for Michael Chabon's latest novel, Gentlemen of the Road, as he explains in an afterword that talks about his metamorphosis from a literary writer into one who has become more of a genre writer. GofR was actually serialized in the New York Times last year and I gave some thought to reading along online but ending up waiting for the collected work. Now I've read it for my first book of 2008.
The gentlemen in question are Zelikman, a Frank and Jew who is a healer and hat lover, and Amram, an African who long ago lost his wife and daughter. The start out swindling a group of men at a caravansary and end up involved in the politics of the Kazar kingdom, helping to restore Filaq to his (?) rightful place. It's a story of armies and elephants and philosophy and a wife variety of characters. I enjoyed it, though not as much as some of Chabon's other word. Still, he's not my favorite writer for nothing and there is plenty of joy and humor to be found in this book. A good start to my 2008 reading.
What's next? I have the three trades I picked up a week ago, two issues each of Asimov's and F&SF, and now two books that I checked out of the library this morning. So, we'll see.