Monday, May 02, 2005

Messer Marco Polo (Donn Byrne)

posted by Tim Walters @ 7:51 PM

A re-read, although I barely remembered anything about it. And now I know why--there's not a lot to remember. Very little actually happens in this short book--you could summarize the plot in a paragraph without omitting anything important--and there isn't much exploration of character or setting, either.

What there is a lot of is, for lack of a better word, blarney. This is clearly intentional--the story is told orally by an Irishman, and for once a book using that conceit actually seems like a transcription. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. He doesn't shy away from the level of repetition involved in oral storytelling, so I got a bit tired of hearing the characters address each other by name practically every sentence.

More seriously, the characters are quite passive--what little happens, happens to them, rather than happening as a result of their actions. This gives it a fatalistic quality, but unfortunately a rather insubstantial one, and one not really appropriate to an adventure story.

But some of the blarney is quite pleasant, and it's by no means a total loss. I liked it about as much as The Crock Of Gold, so calibrate accordingly.


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