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Why did this happen? What about this? What was the fate of so-and-so? Having primarily read this book as a temporary escape from the fantasy genre, I have to admit that it was a mildly entertaining diversion. Great book From Amazon This book, as are most of Amin Maalouf's books, is amazing, the story is very well told and it is captivating. I bought it after having read it years ago in my school library, and I've read it several times over the years. I strongly recommend this book to anyone, it is a great read, very enjoyable. One of Maaloufs most popular books.

From Amazon Maalouf probably one of the most popular writers in the Middle East from Egypt to Turkey gives us another of his historical novels. Set in a time when many thought the end of the world was iminent something like at the start of the year The story surrounds a Lebanese bookseller who goes out in search of a mysterious book that contains the 'th name' based upon God having 99 names and attributes known to man This myserious th name is a name hidden from man.

Balthasar's Odyssey

He travels to Turkey to witness the movement of Sabbetai Sevi whose followers would later be known in Turkey as the 'Donme' then on to Europe where he witnessed the great fire of London. While some may be critical of some of the historical detial in the novel the strange Muslim sect for example dont seem to have any historical base he is mostly praised for bringing history to life and this book is no exception. The lives of the people of the time are wonderfully brought to life something no history book could do.

Probably a book for the airport while waiting for that flight or sitting on a plane with nothing more than a 9 hour journey to look forward to. Decent read, you will probablyl have it finished in a day, 2 at best but still worth a read. Pleasant reading From Amazon It was a pleasant reading. The plot intertwins between Ottoman beauracratic intrigues and personal curiosity. The narrator travels important cities in 17th century and goes through mysterious events. With somewhat magical juxtaposition, the narrator tries to connect those misfortunes that he suffered to the metaphysical book titled 'The Hundredth Name.

He faced humiliation, love, betrayal, then fortune again etc.

Balthasars Odyssey by Maalouf Amin, First Edition

Mediterranean Journey to the Past From Amazon For readers expecting Mediterranean adventures, intertwined with religiously related stories, look no further. This is a story of a Genoese book trader called Balthasar Embriaco or Baldassarro Embriaco who lived near a southwestern part of Mediterranea. Christianity, Islam and Judaism were part of the everyday life in this plot set sometime between The year was supposedly to be the year of the Beast.

This novel was written in a diary style, which the "author", Balthasar, put his daily experiences and thoughts into his dairies. In fact "he" wrote four diaries during the span of this novel. Summing it up: a romantic novel with a Mediteranean background, which the author exploited quite well, and voyages to London, Lisbon, Paris and other Mediterranean European countries.

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Maalouf has done an extremely detailed research prior to publishing it. I enjoyed this book very much, though not the best novel I have read. Thus, a four star.

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Make sure to accept our cookies in order to get the best experience out of this website. If you would like to read more about this check out the Privacy Policy page. Important Message. Maalouf avoids the usual pitfalls of the historical novel. No faux realism for him: he eschews all exotic description, as he spares us any embarrassing attempt at the historic vernacular.

He keeps dialogue to a minimum, concentrating instead on his protagonist's inner world, and employs plain language. The narrative is cast in diary form, since Balthasar cannot be sure whom to trust and so needs to invent a confidant. His journal is both a meditation on the need for Christians, Muslims and Jews to tolerate each other and a fantastic travelogue.

The excellent, supple translation from the French by Barbara Bray chimes in perfectly, making Balthasar sound as much modern as pleasingly strange. Bray has produced a prose as clear as water, and as refreshing. Balthasar's journey follows classic trade routes across the Mediterranean. Our bibliophile hero is in hot pursuit of a lost book, The Hundredth Name , that he has allowed to slip out of his hands. This sacred text with magical properties, revealing the single name of God stopped short of in the Koran, protects its fortunate owner from all disaster.

The elusive book bobs always just ahead of us in the story, like one of those purloined letters beloved of 18th-century novelists, like a meaning or a main clause endlessly deferred. The quest to recapture it forces Balthasar into intellectual, religious and emotional speculation and upheaval. We're in , which is perhaps the Year of the Beast in the Apocalypse: "It is easy to see the attraction of a book that claims to reveal such a secret nowadays, when men live in fear of another Deluge.

Balthasar is compassionate, witty and honest, an utterly charming narrator, who uses his diary not only to record his wanderings but also to reveal his worries, guilts and insecurities: "As I write these lines my doubts increase, as if my pen, scratching at the paper, was also scratching at the wounds to my self-esteem".

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Enduring mysterious attacks, traps, ambushes and beatings, Balthasar is also tested by the growth of his love and desire for Marta, the runaway woman who has joined his party and whom he feels obliged to help. Since Marta is assumed by innkeepers to be his wife, he chivalrously continues this deception in order to protect her honour. Tucked up in bed, they make the shyest, and sexiest, of advances: "I didn't hold her hand until our second meeting, and even then I blushed for it in the dark.

At this, our third encounter, I put my arm round her shoulder. And again I blushed for it. She raised her head, undid her hair, and spread the black tresses over my bare arm. Then she went to sleep without saying a word. Now she's both tender and passionate. Her arms enfold you like those of someone swimming for dear life; she breathes as if her head had been under water till now". It is up to a man to dress the woman he undresses and to perfume the woman he embraces.

Jane Eyre reproaching Mr Rochester for his show-off engagement presents springs irresistibly to mind. The lady vanishes all too soon, however, and the irrepressible Balthasar consoles himself with golden-hearted Bess in a tavern near St Paul's, whence he watches the spread of the Great Fire. Sparkling and erudite, this is a wonderful novel.

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