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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — The Journeyer by Gary Jennings. The Journeyer by Gary Jennings. Marco Polo was nicknamed "Marco of the millions" because his Venetian countrymen took the grandiose stories of his travels to be exaggerated, if not outright lies.
As he lay dying, his priest, family, and friends offered him a last chance to confess his mendacity, and Marco, it is said, replied "I have not told the half of what I saw and did. From the palazzi and back streets of medieval Venice to the sumptuous court of Kublai Khan, from the perfumed sexuality of the Levant to the dangers and rigors of travel along the Silk Road, Marco meets all manner of people, survives all manner of danger, and, insatiably curious, becomes an almost compulsive collector of customs, languages and women.
In more than two decades of travel, Marco was variously a merchant, a warrior, a lover, a spy, even a tax collector - but always a journeyer, unflagging in his appetite for new experiences, regretting only what he missed. Here - recreated and reimagined with all the splendor, the love of adventure, the zest for the rare and curious that are Jennings's hallmarks - is the epic account, at once magnificent and delightful, of the greatest real-life adventurer in human history.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published June 27th by Forge Books first published More Details Original Title. Venice Italy. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Journeyer , please sign up. This question contains spoilers… view spoiler [in the book, there's a part where Marco is getting tortured in the Levant. Cameron I have never seen a documented case, but I come across tantalizing clues here and there.
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More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Journeyer. Jul 19, Algernon Darth Anyan rated it really liked it Shelves: Come hither, emperors and kings, dukes and marquises, knights and burgesses!
Come hither, you people of all degrees, who wish to see the many faces of mankind and to know the diversities of the whole world! Take up this book and read it, or have it read to you. For herein you will find all the greatest wonders and most marvellous curiosities I have chosen instead to travel under the guidance of Gary Jennings, who entered on my favorite authors list with the sprawling epics of Aztec culture and of circus life in the late 19 century Aztec and Spangle.
I was rewarded with the spiced up, picaresque, X-rated version of the said travels - a fictionalized account that at first glance seems too incredible and adventurous to be based on historical facts.
Nevertheless, checking a few internet sources as unreliable in their turn as they may be reveals that the key elements of the journey are accurate and supported by evidence. Beside the 'stylish prose, lively wit and adventurous bawdy spirit', as described on the back cover of the massive volume, what is typical for a Gary Jennings historical epic is his passion for the subject and the thoroughness of his research. He actually spent years retracing the steps of the Polo expeditions, travelling the Silk Road in the Venetians footsteps, learning the local customs, the dialects, the beliefs and arguably their sexual peculiarities.
Nicolo: "Adventure is no more than discomfort and annoyance recollected in the safety of reminiscence. Believe me, an experienced traveler makes plans and takes pains 'not' to have such adventures. The most succesful journey is a dull journey. I was rather looking forward to - well, hazards overcome By mixing the unreliabilty of memory with more than a bit of middle-age wish fulfillment regarding women conquests and with a vivid imagination, Marco becomes the larger than life hero of his own adventure, an almost mythical embodyment of what a critic named a "Rabelaisian lust for life' and of the eternal siren call of the unknown, of the ever receding line of the horizon.
Yes, I meant to go again sometime. But when I was freed from Genoa and returned to Venice, the family business demanded my attention, and so I hesitated to depart. And then I met Donata, and she became my wife. So I hesitated again a while, and then there was a daughter. Naturally that gave me cause to hesitate, and there came a second daughter, and then there were three. So, for one reason and another, I kept on hesitating, and suddenly one day I was old. The family man revisits the places of his wild youth through the pages of the manuscript.
Even by his own account, Marco Polo is not a cautious and lawful citizen of the Merchant Republic. His departure at a very young age in the company of his father Nicolo and his uncle Mafio, comes after a sexual debacle with an older woman and after being arrested for a public assassination.
From a very precocious age Marco shows a restlessness and a recklessness to jump into the fire and then think about how to get out. A libertine and a rogue, a boastful Latino who claims to have killed a wild boar with only a knife, to have invented a military use for Ming fireworks and then to have won a war single-handedly, to have bedded beautiful women from the Persian harems to the Mongol yourts, to the hidden temples of India, Marco will in the end prefer to be remembered for his curiosity: If a man is to have a fault, it should be a passionate one, like insatiable curiosity.
It would be a pity to be damned for something paltry. If I were to attempt a resume of the adventures Marco experiences during his more than twenty years long journey into China, I would fill a book of my own and still wouldn't capture all the beauty of the lands and all the exotic encounters with different people and cultures. Before I let the quotes I selected speak for themselves, I would just mention that the novel is more than a travelogue, especially after the arrival at the court of Kublai Khan when Marco gets mixed up in palace politics, espionage, governorships and military conquests.
Personal drama also comes into play, as Marco's personality develops from a self-centered youth to a considerate lover, later family man. There are side quests involving his uncle Mafio struggling with homosexuality, comic relief from a sidekick inspired by the Arabian Nights, death and loss before the journey's end. Beside mercantile concerns, the later chapters are dealing more with religious identity, sexual identity, governance, violence.
To be honest, I had quite a few issues and grumbles with the text, some of them major turn-offs that made me put the book aside for weeks and read something else. One of these things is the affectation of using archaic spelling for words that have entered common English vocabulary a long time ago.
Other readers might be turned off by the explicit, frequent and detailed accounts of bedroom sports, another Jennings quirk that I noticed in his previous two novels. Most of all I was bothered by the condescending, dismissive and frankly vicious attacks on Buddhism, Hinduism, Islamism and Confucianism, coupled with too glowing remarks about Mongol martial prowess.
I would like to think that the chapters reviling the lamaseries, the stupas, the mosques and the squalor of most of the lands Marco visited has its source somewhere in the original manuscript, and is not reflective of the personal atitudes of Jennings.
Without further ado, here are some samples from the text. I hope they are enough to get you interested: If I sound unloving of camels, it is because I am. I think I have straddled or perched upon every sort of transport animal there is in the world, and I would prefer any other to a camel. By Muslims and Jews and Christians alike. A people who pride themselves on possessing the only true religion must pretend that it came to them through some exclusive revelation.
They do not like to be reminded that it merely derives from some other people's original. Mongol greeting Meanwhile, the Mongol folk, who do not care much about face, are smearing molasses on the faces of their kitchen gods.
They have the quaint belief that the idol they keep over the kitchen hearth, the house god Nagatai, ascends to Heaven at this time to report their year's behavior to the great god Tengri. So they feed molasses to Nagatai in the quaint belief that thus his lips are sealed, and he cannot tattle anything detrimental.
What is it worth? You have ventured out to the farthest edge of the world. It would be a pity if you take home only profit, and not at least a little poetry. Nicolo Polo So is Venice still lovely and dear to me, but it would cease to be if it were not unique. In my opinion, a world of cities and places and views all alike would be the dullest world imaginable, and I feel much the same way about the world's peoples.
If all of them - white and peach and brown and black and whatever other colors exist - were stirred together into a bland tan, every other of their jagged and craggy differences would flatten down into featurelessness. I kept my favorite for last, an epitaph of sorts for a life spent in interesting times: I let no chance go by untaken. I never hesitated to follow where my curiosity beckoned.
I willingly went where there was danger in beauty and beauty in danger. I had experiences in plenty. Many were enjoyable, some were instructive, a few I would rather have missed. But I had them, and I have them still in memory. If, as soon as tomorrow, I go to my grave, it will be no black and silent hole.
The Journeyer is a historical novel about Marco Polo , written by Gary Jennings and first published in Marco is the only heir to the wealthy Polo family of Venice. Unsupervised, he freely roams the streets and canals of the city getting in trouble. When he is falsely accused of murdering the husband of his lover, he is exiled from Venice and travels east with his father and uncle to the court of Kublai Khan , Mongol emperor of the orient. Marco remains in the empire for nearly twenty years and returns home as a wealthy man. His adventures become legendary. Marco Polo is the last of the illustrious Polo family left in Venice, after his father and uncles moved abroad, leaving him and his mother behind.
The Journeyer by Gary Jennings, First Edition
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